I’ve never been a very patriotic person – in the sense that I don’t fly a flag or wear flags on my clothes or sing many patriotic songs. It wasn’t something my family emphasized growing up. I wonder if some of that comes from my grandparent’s Mennonite background? I’m honestly not sure, but it just wasn’t a part of my family’s DNA.
I think the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11 was the first time I really felt united with America. It felt like we had all been attacked in some way. However, I most often feel united with people in general, not as Americans, but as humans. At races or the lighting of the Christmas tree downtown or at concerts – when we’re all there for a similar purpose – that’s when I feel most connected to humanity. Flags and fireworks and the Pledge of Allegiance don’t really do it for me.
I prefer to be united as a human race. I prefer to be united as Earth dwellers. I like to see the similarities in all of us. The differences are important too – the unique attributes we each bring to this world. However, I think we’re all more alike than not. And I like it that way.
Recently I’ve experienced some moments that made me realize the United States is different – and I didn’t like it. A few weeks ago I was at the pool and all of the sudden a black helicopter flew over. Most of us looked up to see it and then went back to our pool activities. That was it. No big deal. However, as I sat there I got sad about the situation. In many parts of the world if a helicopter like that flew over they would need to hide or run for cover. They would be fearful that something bad was about to happen. Or, they would run toward the helicopter hoping it would drop something they need, like food. And there we were – just glancing at it and then back to the water slide.
Last week I was taking a break from the work to talk with our homeowner. I think that’s when I was questioning her about the bridge! As we were sitting there under the shade, a helicopter came into view. It circled us several times. My first thought was it was trying to find a place to land – maybe a medical mission. But, it wasn’t landing. It just circled around. Eventually Belinda suggested they were looking for weed. Whatever they were doing, I was glad when it left.
There was one other helicopter incident recently but I can’t remember it at the moment. Three helicopters in as many weeks. Three situations in which I wasn’t really afraid and yet in a different country I may have been running for cover.
I don’t agree with much of what’s going on in Washington. I doubt whether our President has the nation’s best interests at heart. I wonder if our politicians really understand what we need and why we need it. And yet, I don’t run when I see a helicopter approaching. I don’t worry about my safety. I want to say that means we live in a safe country. And then I realize I’m writing all of this as a white, middle class woman. Maybe this country isn’t as safe I want to believe it is. Maybe people do run for cover when they see a helicopter approaching…
I’m conflicted. I want to sing, “I’m proud to be an American” and yet…
When these patriotic holidays roll around I often think of the hymn This is My Song. Because, like I said at the beginning, I’d rather see the world united as one – not just this country, but all of us. And this song reminds me that we are all under the same blue sky, we all see the same sun and the same moon. We are all humans. Can’t that be enough?