Whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions
That is an incredible quote at the end. Just, YES.
This is one of those posts that reminds me what a lovely thing it is to be a poet, and maybe even lovelier to be someone reading something written by a poet. Such beautiful, precise language.
excerpt from Frederick Douglass' 1852 speech "What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?"
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
torrents of rain
linger in early summer
a charm for flowers
(a not so irritable muse from July 2020)
"Discomfort" is the word. As the not-nation, membership & identity as an American is always as voluntary as it is open to confusion. More like a club than a family, one where the treasurer's hand is always in the till & the membership guidelines & behavioural precepts constantly seem subject to revisions that make one constantly question whether they want to renew their membership. Either way, we end up paying dues.
Patriotism is always exclusionary, yet to truly embrace the higher, aspirational ideals of this country (propaganda though they may be), it's necessary to extend those ideals of fellowship to all people & peoples.
Trying to instill in my 10 year old a healthy cynicism about the whole thing, without alienating his peers in the process. It’s difficult. When he innocently asks me if he can have a flag to wave this year the paternal part of me thinks “Of course you can”. I feel profoundly guilty that he feels he has to ask, and wonder if I’m making too big a deal of it. So this year I‘ll let him be a kid and enjoy the day, and save the history lessons for tomorrow.
I'm cheering on the rain also. It feels like a tiny bit of retribution for the yearly terrorization of my neighborhood and I like to imagine maybe the earth is pissed off. As inhabitants of East Missoula, yearly we take our ancient old lady dog (who blessedly can't hear too much anymore) out of town. The fireworks are always too much, the trash left in the streets is too much, and today this new sub-tier of political and economic citizenship for people who can become pregnant is too much. If ever the flag-waving jingoism was bearable for a weekend (or as you noted- nearly a month in East Mo) I'm chafing against it more aggressively this year than any other before. Out into the hills we go.
*My Gros Ventre pal has a glorious "Merciless Indian Savage" t-shirt he wears and I love listening to him explain to people it in bars when they ask what it means.
Just what I needed to read today, thank you!
I've been disgusted at this country for a long time but it's peaked lately
You know how some people go to church pretty regularly, but they don't go on Christmas because a loved one died in that season, or on Easter because it's too crowded, or whatever? People have these interesting relationships and boundaries with their church-going. I swear I'm not wandering off-topic here:
This weekend I decided my own no-go church days are the ones where folks can't seem to avoid getting nationalistic. The Sundays nearest the 4th of July, Veterans' Day, and Memorial Day are always just UNCOMFORTABLE -- and not the useful, thought-provoking sort of discomfort I can appreciate in a church service. Even when a church (like mine) actively talks about the shortcomings of the Declaration (mine missed the "merciless savages" line, though, and I intend to point that out), there's still a "hoo-rah" flavor that I can't get out of my mouth. It tastes like shit.
Intentionally not attending on these days feels not only like a mental-health win, but also like a fine way to observe the holidays themselves. I mean "observe" in the sense of "look at closely" -- and also possibly "celebrate," though not by singing nationalistic hymns and uncritically praising the USA. I'm spitting that flavor right out.
It's a breezy overcast day here in Northwest Washington State, near the Canadian border, unusually quiet right now.
"... merciless Indian Savages. Was just thinking about that part of the Declaration of Independence earlier this morning and the part about that limited group of human beings who were "created equal" with inalienable rights to life, liberty and happiness.
Wondering why the sounds of the celebration of the 4th of July are a recreation of the sounds of war. Someone across the lake has a cannon that they fire before and during the 4th of July.
Yesterday I was imagining Interdependence Day. Interdependence of the human mind, body and spirit with all we can know and imagine and beyond our wildest dreams.
Yes, it's good to be alive.
"Sometimes when you are devastated you want not a reprieve but a mirror of your condition or a reminder that you are not alone in it. Other times it is not the propaganda or the political art that helps you face a crisis but whatever gives you respite from it."
Thank you, Chris.
Like so many times, i so needed to read this and am thankful to read your beautiful writing. The rain, the pine siskins, the trees, the hills, green with grey skies brewing... the land. and mischievous dogs. Those are things i want to fill our days with and celebrate. Thanks for bringing us all back from the political cliff with a reminder of what is real and what matters... 💜
Yes yes yes yes yes and yes
In a country where guns have more rights than women, and racism is alive and well, I find it hard to celebrate. Since it's a day off for everyone, my community did some grilling with corn on the cob. More rain tonight would be welcomed.
Thanks for your words.
Aack…The juxtaposition of it all! Thank you for writing.
Thank you for articulating my dis-ease with this holiday. I find it puzzling that people celebrate by blowing things up. I am laying low today and letting the hoopleheads do their thing without me.
Well said. I used to work a few blocks from the house where Jefferson actually penned this document, but I will admit that I was never even asked to read it in full during my schooling. How easily we all just accept "what is" as if it always was and always will be, and not what how it came to be here, and "ours," in the first place.
I read this on July 2 in the "Poetry Daily" email I subscribe to; I would feel less averse to religious organizations if I had heard something like this when I was in primary school: "What does one who grants you the kindness of a living body want from you in return/ but an understanding of what it means to feel alive?"
A fragment from the poem “Window” by Forugh Farrokhzad, translated by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., from the book LET US BELIEVE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE COLD SEASON.