Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Patriotism and flags

I just took a walk downtown on the last evening before returning to work. My friend and neighbor pointed out this building that now has red, white, and blue lighting around the top rim. I heard myself say "Patriotism repulses me" out loud. But then I started thinking about what makes this light display different from the Lebanese flags that I displayed in my last post.

It is not patriotism that repulses me, it is its misappropriation. I have been having a difficult time with American flags and the colors red, white, and blue ever since 9/11 when the display of flags as one form of patriotism replaced the emotions that truly needed to be expressed: grief and compassion. Patriotism and the United States flag have been used as an excuse to commit unconscionable genocide.

So how does this differ from displaying the Lebanese flag? For one, Lebanon is not the super power that the United States is. It is a small country that often becomes the battle ground for other countries' disputes. The flag also can be a symbol of the great love that many Lebanese have for their country no matter where they are in the world. And yes, the Siniora government is currently using the Lebanese flag as a means of demonstrating support for the current government, a government that some do not feel adequately represents them. However, thousands of people aren't dying in the name of the Lebanese flag and a misguided need to bring "democracy" to the world either.

I long for a day when the colors red, white, and blue do not send me in a tither like they did today.


bluegrrrrl said...

Very nice reflection on what our red, white, and blue have come to mean! We need to reclaim our flag. I have a t-shirt with the flag and a peace sign instead of the stars, reading "These colors don't torture".

Patriotism means many things. To me, this includes standing up and speaking out in dissent when my country is treading on dangerous ground.

Margaret said...

I agree. I really love my country. It is beautiful and varied geographically and culturally. I just can't stand how many of us treat people in this country and elsewhere. I get so frustrated with this.