Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Day After Independence Day

I sat in the bleachers at Folsom Stadium last night with a young Asian friend of my daughter, a Mexican family with very small children in front me, as I listened with a new ear to the singing of the Star Spangled Banner…words I’ve heard my whole life, and have thought about here and there…but this was different. I saw all of us living with freedoms that so many in the world would, and have, died for. I thought of all the families in the stadium from different countries and traditions embracing my country’s Independence Day celebration because they had wanted to be here, wanted this for themselves and for their families.

I have no illusions about the imperfections of our system. I’ve railed against it time and time again, because I hold to the ideal of what we could be. What our country can evolve to. I’ve had to make peace with the fact that I might not see it in my lifetime, yet I hold it for the future generations to get there.

For many years, one of my sons and I debated, sometime heatedly, about the state of affairs in the U.S. I was less than scathing sometimes, sometimes not, about policies and greed, war and power. He’s very Republican in his thinking, and I am not. I’ve always been against war and power-over politics.

Last night, tears came to my eyes as I watched the flag furling on the field, held by a ring of citizens, said the Pledge of Allegiance along with everyone else for the first time in years. I had begun to see myself as a global citizen and not nationalistically American.

But last night was different. This son is in a protective detail right now across the world from me, and I felt I was holding his place, here in his/my country, and it filled me with such feelings, I tried not to cry, just leak a few tears.
I saw his patriotism and felt it in myself for the first time, maybe ever, in that way. I felt what he was sacrificing his time away from his young family for. I suddenly heard all the conversations we had had, in which he was saying how easily I could be peaceful because I had others guarding my shores and my sleeping children. And I saw the truth in what he said.

This is a very unpopular opinion for most of the people in the city I live in…it’s a very pro-peace, non-violent, new-age/schmoo-age population for a good part. Yet I realized that in order to get there, that evolved humanitarianism, that future peace that has to be cultivated, we have to maintain the culture, the body of freedom we all enjoy, so that it exists into the future.

We have to protect this ideal of freedom that so many have died for. We have to hold that tiny flame in our hearts so that it can grow and blossom into what I’ve always dreamed it could be…a world united in freedom and peace.
For now, I hold that space for my son while he protects my shores.


1 comment:

Ana said...

This was such a beautiful piece, Jyoti. I cried along with you. You know my story,so you know why I'm so grateful. Thank you for a beautiful piece and thank you to your son. Many blessings.