From my window on the fifth floor, I see the top of a high school where each day of the school year, the American Flag waves proudly overhead. I’ve spend a lot of time gazing at that flag since I moved in here, and have felt so many different emotions. Growing up in a military family in small town USA in the 40’s, patriotism was in my blood stream. I learned to salute before could even print my own name. Pride in my country often brought me to tears.
Later, there was anger. SO much anger, at the betrayal of Viet Nam. I no longer could fly the flag. We couldn’t even look at the folded one from my brother\s funeral, and stuck in away in a trunk. We didn’t want the flag and medals. We wanted him.
Now, as I stare at the red, white and blue whipping in the crisp fall breeze, I feel only a deep nostalgia for what it once meant to me. I think my grieving for the loss of all my illusions about America is close to completion now.
I think that was the real “American Dream”: the one they taught me about what American was, this land ‘of and by and for” the people. . I think that’s all it ever was, a dream. A wishful fantasy about what America COULD be, but has never been. ( Except for powerful elite, of course. )
Oh, the people of America tried. We all tried so hard to make it come true. We fought and won many battles to be heard: to have a voice, to have a truly representative democracy.
But it was all to no avail. Goodness cannot compete with greed gone out of control in a society where money rules all and competition is the only way we are taught to interact with each other, from birth on. Win the brass ring no matter who you hurt, get all you can for yourself first and always, and trust no one. There is only one way for a country to go when these are the prevailing values, and that road leads to the opposite of a democracy.
I wonder sometimes, how different my life would have been, if I had known at a younger age, what I know now. Would I have spent nearly all of my life energy and my health, trying to attain what was never really available to me in the first place? Trying to conform to societal roles and values that I know now were really never my own?
I think not. Had I been less “programmed” by the church and by society, I would have seen early on that I did not belong in this culture at all.
Because my soul yearns for collaboration and community with others, not competition and the isolation of mistrust. What is dearest to me are the intangible gifts of being alive, not material goods or status. And I cannot abide unnecessary wars.
So, had I known back then, when equipped with the courage and stamina of youth, what I know now, I would have left these shores completely, long ago, because I would known I had to, if I was to ever find a culture more in synch with who I am, by nature.
But I did not know, and so here I am, looking out the fifth floor window of an a apartment building set aside just for us “seniors”; a nice place for the low income old to live and play bingo and stay nicely segregated out of mainstream sight.
You see, I am no longer “productive” enough to matter much. I was tolerated for as long as I could care for the sick, endlessly, for as little money as could possibly be paid me, much less, for sure, than it cost me to hire a plumber or electrician. I cannot work and pay taxes anymore to support wars and those in hot pursuit of their own versions of the American Dream.
But do NOT feel sorry for me, because now, at long last, I have my freedom, it is nearly absolute, and I am enthralled with it.
I am free now, of all the old “programming” of my mind and intellect. My mind belongs totally to me now. That is an exquisite freedom beyond description.
I am finally free, after nearly 50 years in the workforce, from the toxic control of exploitive corporate employers who legally held me hostage by my need for that paycheck. And until the politicians are allowed to totally dismantle Social Security I know I will survive.
I have found the incredible freedom of discovering what the word “enough” means, and I know I have amply enough to make my life one of joy and endless adventure.
I have full and free choice, every single morning when I awaken, to fill my day with whatever and whoever I choose to fill it with, and I rise with a sense of anticipation and eagerness to know what it will hold.
In my mind, I have won. In my mind, I have more riches now that the wealthiest billionaire. Nothing and no one “owns” me anymore. Nothing and no one can silence me anymore, and I have all but run clear out of things to fear, like ‘losing everything I owned”. Been there, done that, survived it, got the Tee-shirt.
So, while I may not have a physical country I can call my own anymore, or any of the signs and symbols of “success” they told me I had to accumulate to be considered a worthwhile citizen, I have something so much more in synch with who I am.
I have my authentic self back. I have my freedom. I have a simple and joyous life filled with beloved family and a huge community of others I love and admire, like all of you, my dear readers.
So I will notice the flag flying out there, and admire how it dances with the wind, then I will look past it, to the banks of green trees about to dress themselves up in brilliant colors. Then I will look beyond that, to the rest the beautiful land full of ordinary Americans just like me, and then past that to the whole world full of All My Relations, with all their colorful flags and people just like me, that I may never meet but know I am one with.
Legally, I remain a citizen of the USA, but in my heart, I know that is just a location on the globe where my body happens to live.
However, in my heart, I am a citizen of the global community , and that is where my I pledge my allegiance now.