Thursday, July 5, 2012

Land of our Fathers, Land of our Children

I'm an average American citizen.  I feel a deep sense of fortune for the land I was born in and the opportunities I have been given as a result; but I'm not getting an eagle tattooed on my chest or patrolling the boarder any time soon.  I do love my country but I've never been inclined to sign up for military duty and I feel a little ridiculous joining the "U-S-A, U-S-A" chant every time Taco Bell has a two for one taco give away.  I think there's a very large line between patriotic pride and ignorant nationalism.  Quick example: all the people on comment boards for news stories claiming "this is unconstitutional" or "that's a prime example of socialism" - yet, as someone who is just wrapping up a year of studying constitutional law it's painfully apparent how few of them even know what the constitution says or it's intended purpose in our society.  And ask a single one of them to define socialism and they can't. ... most of them can't even spell it with out spell check.  But that's actually made me love this country a little more.  Yes, there are ignorant assholes - but that's allowed.  How many countries make it a god given right to be an asshole?!  With no hint of sarcasm intended, that's pretty awesome.

Anyway, I got off on a bit of a tangent there.  What I really wanted to talk about was how much my pride has expanded since the births of my children.  They are the people I would do battle for.  They are the reasons I would chant mindlessly.  And I think how lucky, not just that I was born here, but more importantly that they were.  Medical care.  Clean water.  Abundant food.  Spacious (if not expensive) housing.  The top public protection services in Police and Fire.  We're only an hour or two north of Tijuana, Mexico where we live.  I've seen how close we are to a tragic system.  That's not to say the whole country is that way, or to imply that parts of the US are not just as bad, but its a stark contradiction between the two images.  And I'm grateful that my children were born 2 hours to the north.  I can worry about things like what college they'll go to, what boys they'll bring home, to sign them up for soccer or softball.  I don't have to go to sleep at night worried about where they'll get their next meal, what disease they may pick up in the sewage strewn street, will some bloodthirsty cartel catch them in the crossfire of their ever increasing gun battles?  My children are safe.  My children are happy.  My children are free.  Free to be what ever they want to be. ... even assholes.

Trying to make them aware of what a great country we live in we've taught them about the American flag (they call it the "United States Flag" though and it sounds much cuter) a few months ago; now they point out every one they see.  And as they went to bed on July 3rd I talked to them about what the next day was.  I told them it was the birthday for the United States and we were going to have a big birthday party.  When they woke up they were super excited and told my mom later in the day about the United State's birthday and that's why they were "dressed up like the United States Flag!" Genevieve also mentioned fireworks very enthusiastically.

There was a face painter at the block party and he asked Arianna what she wanted.  "United States' Flag please."  He looked at me and I convinced him I had not put her up to it.  "I've never had a two year old ask for a United States' Flag before," he said.  "Usually it's unicorns or rainbows."

Genevieve opted for a firecracker.  I'm a little worried about this one; all she talked about were explosives for much of the day.
Unfortunately a few of the cities around us stopped their big displays due to budget cuts; tragic but understandable.  We went home hoping we could see the big display at the nearby Air Force base but, even from the balcony, they were just below the treeline - even for me.  So instead we climbed in to bed with the girls and watched a dazzling fireworks display on the iPad.  It's the 21st Century right. ... that's what the world has come to.  Anyway, thanks America.  For all you've given us and all you promise us we are truly grateful.  Even if I don't get 8 weeks vacation like Finland or 12 months paid paternity leave like Sweden.  At least I can wear shorts and flip-flops year round.  So suck it Scandinavia!  U-S-A!  U-S-A! U-S-A!

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