I downloaded an app for my iPhone called “Thumb.” This app allows you to ask questions and get answers from random strangers, with thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings. It’s mindless entertainment, as are most social apps. Anyway, while thumbing through questions I stumbled across one depicting a Marine Corps drill team with the caption, “Respect and honor????” I’m not sure why so many question marks were necessary.
Now, I have never made it any secret that I feel this country’s fascination with its military is a little bit on the grotesque side and its willingness to go to war is not a stance I can support. I understand my opinion isn’t popular. It’s not that I don’t support our military. I realize we don’t live in a utopia and we ought to have protection from outside threats. I just don’t support the use of the military to exert dominance over other cultures or force our ideals into the governments of other countries. That’s not our place.
As to military tradition: while I think that the uniforms are nice and the drill team exercises are fun to watch, I don’t support the foundation upon which it’s built and I think the resources could be put to better use. I answered the question as follows:
The reason I answered as I did is two-fold:
- Military drill teams romanticize the public’s view of the military, distracting us from the realities of war and putting a shiny coat of lacquer on what is essentially a turd.
- Military drill teams, steeped in tradition and providing entertainment, don’t honestly portray the “respect and honor” that our soldiers and veterans (and their families) deserve in the form of tangible assistance.
The response to my comment is what I call “hyper-patriotism.” It’s not the same as patriotism. This is the mentality that spurs politicians to say things like, “This is America. We speak English. Learn it.” It’s the view that anyone who doesn’t think or act or speak like you do ought to live somewhere else because they’re destroying your way of life. This view has been applied to people of different ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. It’s disgusting.
A patriot isn’t one who is overtly proud of our capabilities to blow whole countries up. A patriot isn’t one who exerts their will over everyone else by force. A patriot isn’t simply one who speaks the language of the majority. A patriot isn’t one who swims along with the current of the comfortable majority.
A patriot is one who realizes that this country’s power puts it in a unique position to be a beacon of hope for humankind and a shining example of how Western culture can propagate peace and goodwill instead of bombs and bullets. A patriot is one who wishes to see that happen both inside and outside of our own borders, even if it means upsetting the status quo. I’m not going to swim along with the current.