Friday, February 8, 2008

America: It Just Might Work

I love music. It can move us in ways nothing else can. And you never know where it will come from. A certain tone and a certain set of lyrics hits you in a certain frame of mind to produce an experience whose description defies the use of words, and whose memory will come back, albeit muted over time, each time you hear it again.

I've always been a proud American. Years ago I would stand straight during the National Anthem at sporting events, even if everyone around me was drunk and laughing. I don't like people fucking around with the lyrics and yelling "Stars" or "Braves" or whatever other word in the song has the misfortune of being a sports team mascot. We were Americans, and we should have more respect than that, or at least that was how I saw it. We were the greatest nation on earth. Experience has chipped away at that ideallic view over the years, the past few especially. The torture thing was the last straw. We were America. We were supposed to be the good guys. They tortured, we didn't, that's what made us better than them.

Anyway, it's been a while since my chest swellled with a little pride in America, not so much our greatness of self as much as the greatness and uniqueness of vision that this country represents. Whatever flaws we have, America still stands as one of the greatest political and social experiments ever conceived, a nation of immigrents, descendents of slaves, and passers by who decided to stay in this huge land, clinging to its traditions and rugged individualism while the limitations of the world and an ever growing population gnaw at its foundations, forcing it to constantly change to avoid splintering into permanently warring factions. The civil war, and perhaps more, are inevitable with a society constructed as this one is. And yet here we are. Spalding Gray once said, in Swimming to Cambodia, "Consider a country like America, or rather, consider America, because certainly there's certainly no country like it..." Indeed there isn't, and it's ours, and it's time we held our leaders and ourselves up to a higher standard, and make America better than it is. I think some of that has been lost lately.

But there's something else to consider when we think ill of America. We might not be the greatest nation on earth any more, but we arguably were, and easily can be again. That's a helluva lot more than most countries can claim. Leave it to Roy Zimmerman to elicit this in me. The guy has a way with a phrase, a catchy tune, and a bizarrely sensible, average-guy approach to some heavy unusual views. We can make this crazy thing work.

And yeah, it's a little politically partisan at the beginnning, but that's the exception rather than the rule. Besides, anyone with no biases has no opinions of his own.

Hat Tip: Pharyngula

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