Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day, Patriotism, and Being a Citizen of the World

Today's message to my readers has certainly caused lots of interesting reactions.

One reader basically called me unpatriotic. Another wanted off my mailing list because war is wrong and they couldn't believe I'd send out something remembering the fallen on memorial day. I found both reactions quite interesting.

This was my message to my newsletter readers today:

~~~~~

I just wanted to take this opportunity to share my deepest gratitude and appreciation for those men and women who have suffered and died so that we could be free here in the United States. Also thanks to the men and women who are currently serving or who have served in the past. And all the families and friends who have suffered because someone they love was away or lost in battle.
We take so many things in this country for granted sometimes. And we complain and criticize the politics, the wars, the "other guys" and what they are doing that is in opposition to how we think things should be done.
But the truth is without the armed forces of the United States and all they have done for us including selflessly risking their lives, we might live like so many people do in other parts of the world:

  • without a free education

  • without great literature and news easily available at the local library

  • without clean, safe water to drink

  • without free representation if you've been accused of a crime

  • without the ability to speak freely about the things you care about

  • without the ability to worship in the manner you choose

  • without the ability to get a job, own a home, own a business, get a higher education regardless of your race, nationality, religion, gender, political party, etc.

  • without the ability to change your life circumstance and go after and attain your dreams.
My son sometimes asks me where I most want to live in the world.
I may not always agree with the politics, or the wars, or the way the tax money is divvied up between programs and services provided. I am deeply saddened by our history and how we severely mistreated various groups of people like the Native Americans, the African Americans, the Chinese and other immigrants, etc. But despite all that, the answer to where I most want to live in the world is almost always within U.S. borders.
Thanks again for your service.
Many blessings to those still serving and the countless friends and family who have suffered because someone they love was lost or is currently away from home serving their country.
Deb
~~~~~
Within minutes of sending out the message, I got one back from a reader wanting off my list. Couldn't believe I would send such "crap." Her reaction prompted me to write this:

~~~~~

Up until about a year ago, I had a certain opinion about war and the military.
However, in the past year I have been surrounded by people who have been in the military, are in the military, or have lost loved ones in the military. The Unitarian Universalist church I attend did a very beautiful service for memorial day yesterday. Several members of the congregation, including a dear man I have greatly enjoyed getting to know because of our common interest in metaphysics, shared their stories of being in the military - some by choice, others by draft. Every one of them openly wept about what they saw, the people they lost, the memories they have. I was deeply moved.
The guy I began dating from high school who took me to prom 30 years ago, went in to the military right after high school and ended up in special forces. I never knew that until we started dating. He was shipped off to Teheran where he watched his buddies get blown to bits and he himself was hit and almost didn't make it. Through his eyes and with his help, I was able to see all of it from a completely different perspective.
It is not something I would chose for myself or my own son. I don't agree with the wars going on right now. And yet, as I am going deeply into world history as I homeschool my son, I am realizing that certain times when we were involved in war, it has been very important that we do so. Was it not imperative that we get involved after Pearl Harbor and help end the nightmare that was Hitler's regime? Heck, if I'd been alive and knew what was going on over there, I might have even volunteered to do something to stop it. In Korea, where my father served during the war, we were trying to prevent the spread of communism. I don't really know for sure, but I don't think communism has been a good thing.
Soldiers aren't bad people. In fact, the guy from high school is one of the kindest, most giving, compassionate, caring people that ever walked on the face of this earth. He was willing to die and he almost did. Not everyone who joins the military is of the same character. Some just want to "blow up the commies" or whatever they think. But there are a whole bunch of others who are doing it for noble reasons - for protection, for service, because they love their country, their families, their way of life.     
War, like most things, is not as simple as black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. 
To walk the journey I walk, I've been forced to look at my judgments of everything. And this was a big one for me. 
I grieve when others suffer. Soldiers and their families are no exception.
I wish you well,
Deb  




~~~~~

Later on I went on Facebook and discovered that one of my friends had disliked the way I said "where I most want to live in the world is almost always within U.S. borders." Apparently that isn't being patriotic enough. So that comment prompted me to write the following:

~~~~~

I've already married a foreigner and left the U.S., lived off American soil, even became a permanent resident somewhere else - heaven forbid - LOL.

If I was willing to do something once, then perhaps I would do it again. Every day is a new day and I have no idea what my future holds. I've moved for love more than once. I've moved for work more than once. Could either of those things, or something else, take me to another foreign land? Who knows. But I am definitely open to all possibilities.

I greatly enjoyed my time with our Canadian neighbors. If it weren't so bloody cold, I might still be there.

Most of the people I know who have lived in a foreign country, even for a little while, have been greatly enriched by the experience.

My son is a dual citizen. I'm thrilled for him.

Beautiful places all over the world call out to me -  San Diego, Hawaii, Belize, New Zealand, and many more. As my friend, Brian, island hops by boat for a whole year, I see the photos he posts and wonder if that place is somewhere I might like to visit or even live for awhile.

I am human just like 6.8 billion other people. My home is earth. I want happiness, health, and freedom from tyranny for everyone on the planet regardless of country, gender, age, religion, race, economic status, education level, political view, and anything else that keeps us artificially separated.

I'm an American citizen. I live on American soil. I enjoy the people and place where I currently live.

Yet I am definitely a person of the world. I've traveled and love to do so. I love finding out about cultures, food, dress, customs and religions others enjoy. I don't like war. I don't even like arguments. I care when others are suffering - I don't care who they are or where they live.

I look at the whole of the earth and all its creatures as a mother, or even grandmother, looks on her children or her grandchildren. They are all different. Yet they are all loved and cared for. I want them all to be healthy, safe, nurtured and protected. I want them all to thrive and be happy.

I loved a soldier and he touched my soul. I felt his pain and the pain of all the soldiers and all the families that have ever dealt with the aftermath of war. This day is about remembering their loss and their gift of service.   

May they all be blessed,
Deb

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