Patriotism

Sharon November 6th, 2008

I am a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”  - Abraham Lincoln

I was busy yesterday with the crisis at my son’s school, so it is only today that I get to reflect a little bit on the election, and more importantly, on America.  I was a little surprised at how delighted and moved I was yesterday - you see, I have my doubts about Obama.  But the acceptance speech was quite something, and I think that there’s a measure of hope, even beyond the remarkable fact that America, a state that has since its very inception, been inscribed with racial divisions, crossed an important line.  It didn’t magically transform our history, but it immediately reshapes the narrative in important ways.

What remains to be seen is not so much what kind of man Obama is now, but what kind of president the crisis he inherits will make him into, and what kind of people Americans will shape themselves and their president into. 

How is this different than asking who Obama is?  Well, I think it is safe to say that the majority of American presidents have been, if not mediocrities, mixed blessings.  Simon, my 7 year old, is fascinated by the history of the American presidency, and he asks me “who were the best” “who were the worst” and why all the time.  And for the most part, in most times, the answer is “a little of both.”  There are some truly awful presidents out there (obviously not in any way excluding the lame duck in office), and some really great ones. 

The really great ones tend to be great not because they were essentially great men - although sometimes they were that too - but it isn’t clear to me, reading history that the best of our presidents, in ordinary times, would have been much more than on the good side of mixed.  But two things have meant that for the most part, in America’s times of greatest crisis, it has gotten some truly remarkable presidents, and a history worth loving and valorizing.  The first is that the people have had the courage to risk something, to venture into difficult territory and choose a man they believe has what is needed.  Manifestly, that is true today.  And the second is that the responsibilities and courage demanded by events has often harrowed the presidents facing vast crises into men of more than ordinary greatness.

It would be a mistake to ask now whether Obama is our Lincoln or FDR yet - Lincoln was not fully Lincoln, in the sense we think of him at his inauguration.  Read the First Inaugural Address and then the Second, to get a very simple, broad sense how even a short period in office transformed Lincoln, from a remarkable man into a great one. I open up the possibility that even if Obama is not now quite the man we need, the people and the office, the crisis and the power might just render him into something close to it, as it has done for past presidents.  FDR was not fully ready to betray his class and reallocate wealth as he entered the presidency.  Lincoln was not ready to take the necessary steps to end slavery at the outset of his presidency. 

 Both became great, rather than beginning in greatness - and in some ways, this is a better, more glorious thing - for who among us was born great? But if events can bring greatness, each of us can achieve a small measure of it.  And in each case, not only did the president become great as he faced his enormous crisis, but so did the people under him, those who sacrificed and transformed their lives, whose courage shone so powerfully that they reshaped their president, as flames burnish and reshape cold metal.

I do not know whether Obama is the right man, but I do have faith that we are the right people in this particular moment.  I also believe that we are facing a crisis quite as deep as the civil war, and in many ways, more like the civil war than World War II.  This is  simply because our present disaster, for all it’s world implications, is a deeply internal crisis, one that will force us to consider a question most of us resist examining too closely - what will we love our America for?  What will America be, in a shifting world? 

We are facing a deep crisis - our economy is simply falling apart, while our ecology and the underlying source of our economic power - our energy supply - is threatened.  And Obama is coming to us, like Lincoln, like Roosevelt, at a moment in which the easy solutions to these crises are no longer possible. It is a painful truth, but a truth nonetheless that we are no longer living in a moment where there are simple investments, easy outcomes, or a hope of avoiding great difficulty.  No matter what Obama or anyone else does, America will no longer be the America that most of us grew up with - we will no longer be able to rely on old claims to greatness, no longer be secure in our wealth, no longer be able to go one way, while the rest of the world goes theirs. 

At fundamental levels, our structures must change - we must take back the power that has been stripped from the people over the last decades, and particularly over the last eight years.  We must find new ways to organize ourselves in order to meet basic needs, and in order to find a way to live that keeps at its center, the future of the next generations. 

We must change the stories of our culture, the ones that help inform our understanding of who we are.  We are no longer frontiersmen, pushing the limits, moving on and growing into the next place and the next.  Instead, as Wendell Berry puts it, we must remember that the counternarrative of those who came and stayed and loved a place.  That narrative of stopping and staying must become our central a counter narrative to the account failed story of eternal growth and “always-more.”

We have been patriots for a long time based on a certainty about our place in the world that is shifting.  Some of us are angry that the country we loved has been cheapened by theft and injustrice, and have come to feel that our patriotism rings false.  Others kept their patriotism, but struggled more and more to find present, rather than past glories to hang that love upon.   Fortunately, we neither need to be ashamed of a false patriotism nor deny that America’s place in the world has shifted.  The roots of patriotism lie in the word itself, and under our feet.  The hope for our future greatness, the hope for our future, for “ourselves and our posterity” is in the soil on which we stand.  The word “patriotism” which comes from the idea of the “patria” or the land as father to us all, is the place to begin - we need not root our love for our country in the distant past or a flawed present - we can root it solidly in the ground that we love and nurture and grow in.  And we can make that ground yield forth an unimaginably hopeful future - one in which each generation no longer takes just a little more from the next, but in which each generation more deeply regenerates their place, and brings forth more fruit to enrich their children. 

I’d like to look again at Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, a piece of writing I was taught to love by a wonderful teacher, John Burt, because it is so tremendously apt to the situation we find ourselves in.  Although we are not at war, most Americans now face a situation unanticipated, in which all the solutions that both parties have offered and most of us once believed in  are inadequate to the terrible situaton we now face. No one will come out of this with everything they need, with “their prayers answered fully.”  All of us will pay the piper for a situation we did not fully create, and yet, each participated in.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

I think most of us fear for the future, grieve for those already suffering, both here and around the world, and tremble for our children and grandchildren and the generations that will have to live in our warming and impoverished world.  I think all of us, if we could will it, would change our circumstances, would rewind the last decades and do things differently, lest we not face this terrible unwinding of our imagined future.  Those of us who do pray, we probably all pray the same things “Oh please, G-d, protect us all.”

And the answer comes back to us, through reason and from G-d, for those of us who hear that voice - the answer is that our future is literally in our own hands.  The man we have made President may or may not rise to the difficult circumstances he faces.  I hope and pray he does.  And whether he does in part depends on us.  If we make it necessary, if we become great, well, perhaps he will follow.  Or perhaps it won’t matter that much if he doesn’t.

We are told over and over again that the American people will not sacrifice, that they are lazy, they lack courage, they are not the equals of the people who came before us and gave us pieces of a history worth believing in.  I do not know what kind of president we have, but I know, if I know any thing in the world that that last is a slander, a lie.  Each of us has the capacity to become greater than we are at present, to invoke the power of past generations, and past acts of heroism, and become what we need to be - the people who will preserve an America worth loving.  So far, most people still don’t quite realize what is needed, but I have faith that if we choose, we who have coasted on cheap energy and plenty of wealth will find in ourselves that we are not so very far removed from our past, and that we are tied in the soils and by our courage to a future worth having.  I have hope that we can create an America and an American people so deeply worth loving that our current and future leaders are shaped and transformed and burnished in greatness, as we transform and burnish ourselves.

Shalom,

 Sharon

48 Responses to “Patriotism”

  1. Verdeon 06 Nov 2008 at 11:07 am

    Beautifully written, thank you.

  2. Susan in NJon 06 Nov 2008 at 11:42 am

    Good post, Sharon.

  3. Kathleen in MDon 06 Nov 2008 at 11:47 am

    Shalom to you Sharon, your family and to all who read this. As Christians we use the Hebrew word Shalom to mean peace, but the true Hebrew meaning is fuller and richer, a word we have no equivalent for in English. It means God’s fullness and wholeness, a sense of health and healing, a complete integration of body, mind and spirit. It means that we are at peace with ourselves, our families and the rest of the world. Shalom to all as we embark on this new journey in our nation’s history. Thank you Sharon for your thoughtful reflections.

  4. Ginaon 06 Nov 2008 at 11:58 am

    Well said (as usual)! You even approached the issue of our collective ambiguity for the next years and the errosion of American values (perceived and imaginary) with eloquence. I let myself feel hopeful (the first time regarding politics in at least 8 years) and I stopped (the best I could) the doubt from creeping in as has been a habit for me. That will come, I’m sure, as I feel exactly what you are saying about the doubts for a new presidency. But for now, I need to feel this hope…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Tracion 06 Nov 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Sharon,

    You are such a thoughtful person, I feel blessed to read your words.

    Thank you,
    ~Traci
    Vancouver, WA

  6. […] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Patriotism I was busy yesterday with the crisis at my son’s school, so it is only today that I get to reflect a little bit on the election, and more importantly, on America. I was a little surprised at how delighted and moved I was yesterday - you see, I have my doubts about Obama. But the acceptance speech was quite something, and I think that there’s a measure of hope, even beyond the remarkable fact that America, a state that has since its very inception, been inscribed with racial divisions, crossed an important line. It didn’t magically transform our history, but it immediately reshapes the narrative in important ways. […]

  7. homebrewlibrarianon 06 Nov 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I should forward this to a friend who told me that “if Obama wins, I’m going out to stock up on more ammo,” the implication being that there would be some conflict my friend needed to protect himself against. But this post takes a step back from individual reactions to this past election and looks at what the whole of us are in store for. And how it can become an opportunity for a unity we haven’t seen in a very long time. I don’t know if Obama is up for the challenge either but I do know that he’ll have much more effectiveness if the people step forward with an offer of help and that help is channeled towards patching and healing.

    As a t-shirt I own states “God bless the whole world. No exceptions.”

    Kerri in AK

  8. Meadowlarkon 06 Nov 2008 at 1:21 pm

    “I think all of us, if we could will it, would change our circumstances, would rewind the last decades and do things differently”

    If by US you mean US and not those who have profited immensely off the backs of others. I truly do no believe that they would do things differently, for the future their children face is far different than the future my children face.

    Homebrewlibrarian, sadly my employer told me yesterday that a “friend of a friend” purchased half a million dollars worth of ARs yesterday. :(

  9. [email protected] the Frugal Lifeon 06 Nov 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Beautifully written, thank you. It may be one of the most heartening pieces I have read in reflection of the recent election.

  10. Frogdanceron 06 Nov 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Wonderful writing. (And I’m not even American!!!!)

  11. Lynneton 06 Nov 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for a great post.

    I felt hopeful Tuesday night, for the first time in a long time; the people, the great American people, stepped forward.

    They donated money they couldn’t afford, they donated time and effort, they turned out to vote, some for the first time in their lives. They did it to take back the country from the moneyed and powerful purveyors of greed and fear. They did it to give their children and grandchildren a chance.

    Now, of course, is only the start. We have only opened the door of the stables filled with muck of years of lying, cheating and thieving. Cleaning it out will take more work, more faith, and more hope. But together we can do it.

  12. squrrlon 06 Nov 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you! You have given me back a reason to call myself a patriot–it’s so simple, but I couldn’t figure it out myself. I knew that I wouldn’t really become an expat, however much I joked about it, but I couldn’t have given you much reason to call me a patriot–certainly not a whole lot I could call “pride”. But I still have the simplest, best reason.

    This is my home.

    In a country founded by people who willingly left their homes, sometimes over and over, and where every generation this century has bought more completely into the lie that it’s what you have and how much you earn that matters, and never where you are or who with, we need to step back and realize that eventually, you need to take root. And this is what I know and where I am, and this is where I take my stand. For better or for worse, this is my home and here is my family and I’d better love it because it’s what I have.

  13. Lisa Zon 06 Nov 2008 at 3:28 pm

    “This is my home.

    For better or for worse, this is my home and here is my family and I’d better love it because it’s what I have.”

    Well said, squrrl. And beautiful essay, Sharon. The notion of “patria”–our land–is a wonderful one. I feel a deep sense of rootedness in this place, my place, America. Ashamed as I have been at times of our politics in the world, this is still my home.

    The one thing I have felt since Mr. Obama became president-elect is that this now changes the whole game. The whole feeling, the direction, the discourse of our country and even the world. There will still be some scary times, of course, and President Obama will likely be tested as Joe “open mouth insert foot” Biden has said. But the message from the top down is no longer going to be “be afraid, be very afraid” as it has been under Bush-Cheney. That, maybe more than anything, is going to help us move forward. And that gives me hope!

  14. ceridwenon 06 Nov 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Well….from the standpoint of the rest of the world - Britain anyway (which is where I am) - it is a huge relief to see someone intelligent and principled is now to be President of America. In Britain there has been a HUGE HUGE distrust of America - mainly as we are so fed-up to the back teeth with getting dragged into America’s wars. Hopefully - this will now stop. We will give Obama the benefit of the doubt and we are hopeful that a new era will dawn. We are watching with interest. He has a huge task ahead of him - but he looks like a good candidate for this unenviable task from our point of view.

    We wondered if America would EVER choose a President that was any good - and now we think “They just have - at last” - so we are keeping our fingers crossed very hard that he will do well in this task that he clearly was born to do and not get corrupted in the process.

    Congratulations.

  15. Michelleon 06 Nov 2008 at 4:14 pm

    *stands up and cheers*

    So, are you going to submit this to the NYT OpEd page?

  16. Veganon 06 Nov 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Sharon, thank you for your great reflections.

    The world is grateful and rejoicing that President Obama was elected. I’m so glad I voted for him and that Florida finally went to the Democrats.

    I do have hope. And, it is not false or foolish as some think.

  17. Alanon 06 Nov 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Wonderful piece.

    I, too, after all these years of disappointments and defeats (I am 62, a child of the sixties), am inclined to be skeptical. But the election of Barack Obama has raised my spirits, maybe not because our President-elect will necessarily rise to the occasion (although he appears intelligent, thoughtful, and eloquent enough to pull it off, if any person can). But, that the American people would put aside their racist fears and vote their hopes and ideals is something we can all look upon with gratitude and hope for the future.

  18. Lydia K.on 06 Nov 2008 at 5:54 pm

    As a Black woman, I feel an incredible sense of pride and joy at watching our nation elect our first African-American president. I know this is a feeling shared by many of all different races, ethnicities, etc. I remember as a little girl growing up in Mississippi being told by White classmates that I could never be president because I was Black. And I am only 27 years old! Now, the first African-American president has been elected, before I was even eligible to run. :) As the mother of a little girl of mixed Jewish and Black background, I am thrilled that our president is someone she can look at and see herself in.

    I share some of your misgivings, Sharon, and I don’t think Obama will live up to my vision of the ideal leader, but I have great hope that he will do many things right. And that he will be able and willing to listen to the people when we stand up and demand his attention, as I also believe will happen during his administration. He has said all along, that this election was not about him, it’s about us, the people. And if nothing else, I feel that he truly does understand that.

    Anyway, I’m happy I got to vote for the winner this time. And that I can feel like a patriot for the first time in my life, not only because we have a Black president, but because I have begun to develop that feeling of belonging to a piece of earth that is so important for us all.

    Lydia

  19. Stephen B.on 06 Nov 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Perhaps we should have voted for Sharon Astyk instead.

    I always look forward to your posts. Thanks!

  20. Brad K.on 06 Nov 2008 at 8:20 pm

    homebrewlibrarian - I have to agree with your friend, about stocking up on ammunition.

    The second amendment doesn’t allow or permit anyone to actually use their weapons. My reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution lead me to believe that the 2nd amendment is about ‘tyrant repellent’. The US government has been more restrained about using force against it’s citizens than many nations at the time of our birth. And I believe the freedom of speech, and the existence of an armed citizenry, have kept out government from tyranny.

    President-elect Obama, like many others, have stated an expectation of eliminating and limiting gun ownership. Some others of us believe that leaves the country at increased risk of tyranny from our government, today or in a generation, and increases the risk of attack from foreign sources.

    I think your friend, more immediately, is concerned about the government restricting access to guns and ammo in the near future. It might be time to ‘get’ while the getting is good.

  21. Zucchinion 06 Nov 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Forget the NY Times - somebody needs to forward this to Obama himself.

  22. Johnon 06 Nov 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Sharon, this has all of the moral depth and insight and eloquence I have always admired in what you write! And you are absolutely correct that it’s how Obama will rise to the occasion that will really show what he is made of, as Lincoln and Roosevelt both did.

    Some day I want to hear what you have to say about President Johnson, who had greatness in him, despite his flaws and his tragedy.

  23. Delpasoredon 07 Nov 2008 at 2:24 am

    Gun ownership will keep us free of tyranny? Where have these people been for the last eight years? Holding tight onto their guns just watching while Bush and Cheney took away our freedoms with the Patriot Act and signing statements. The Second Amendment is only part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights they seemed to have even read. Gun ownership will not keep you free of tyranny if the rest of the Constitution is in shreds.
    Wake up; you have been sleeping while your freedoms were stolen.

  24. ceridwenon 07 Nov 2008 at 3:16 am

    Michelle

    Was it me you were referring to? Well - I took a guess that the New York Times is THE main U.S. newspaper then and went into its website - but couldnt see how one left a comment - no chance here, comments closed there and dont know what was going on in another place. Will assume that is your leading newspaper and will have a further looksee later.

    ceridwen

  25. […] Is it the person / people or the is it the circumstances that make us great? […]

  26. Hummingbirdon 07 Nov 2008 at 5:52 am

    Yes, Sharon, you are a charismatic leader!

    Now if only more people could hear you.

  27. feonixrifton 07 Nov 2008 at 7:47 am

    I’ll dare a little improbability, as it’s definitely not impossibility:

    I hope Obama reads your post.

  28. John O. Andersenon 07 Nov 2008 at 8:34 am

    Sharon,

    That was wonderful. I’ve strongly recommended it to my wife and daughter.

    We have elected a solid, and as one poster wrote: “intelligent and principled” President.

    Now the task ahead for us, the people, is to be intelligent and principled as well; to rise to the challenge.

    For many of us, the current crisis will be the defining moment of our lives.

  29. Wannaon 07 Nov 2008 at 10:13 am

    Bush won his second term because Americans voted for him. They felt he best represented their interests. Bush did us a service. Under his watch, the situation deteriorated so rapidly, that it allowed many Americans to vote for Obama. Bush brought things to a head so we can turn direction NOW. If he hadn’t been so bad, McCain may have won and we may have continued on our path of self destruction. We have Bush to thank for helping many Americans to see more clearly, to see clearly enough to vote for Obama in 2008.

    Obama represents a bridge- between black and white, between rich and poor, east and west, Muslim and Christian, man and woman, US vs them, past and future. He is the symbol of unity, where we need to be if we are to survive as a species and create heaven on earth. He is the leader that I didn’t think existed. I have hope again.

  30. Taraon 07 Nov 2008 at 10:48 am

    To Ceridwen, and all our other neighbors abroad: Please, PLEASE know that we didn’t ALL want this abomination of an administration that we’ve had for the past eight years. They are there only by the grace of a very slim margin. Fully half of us didn’t want Bush in the white house, and don’t approve of his policies.

    Having said that, I still can’t believe it was only half.

    I’m hopeful now that our reputation abroad can be restored!

    Delpasored: I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s important, to be sure, but it certainly isn’t the only thing.

  31. Lydiaon 07 Nov 2008 at 11:18 am

    I find it very interesting that not many people are talking about any sort of election fraud or ballots being lost or any electronic machines switching votes like we have had the last two elections. Doesn’t anyone find that curious?
    Why not? Maybe the PTB knew that if four more years of the same were to be instituted then the people might get out their pitch forks and tourches.

    Obama may indeed ilicit some hope for the whole “we are all one people” thing, and that is good to be sure. This was something as big or bigger than the whole Rosa Parks thing, and I am very glad of that. However if one looks at how he has really voted on critical issues, not much of a sea change.

    He voted for FISA, voted to continue the Patriot Act. Many will be deceived because he is black and much better at persuasion than our current “leader”.
    Approach is everything and Obama is good at it. But a screwing is still a screwing even if it feels better with one as opposed to the other.

    Dark days are ahead I think, and the New World Order agenda is still
    part and parcel of the playbook. Google Lindsey Williams and then tell me you still think that “peak oil” is real. There is more going on with the men behind the curtain than any of us knows. Google Edward Bernays and watch
    The Century of the Self.

    Almost every society that has had their firearms taken resulted in a genocide not long afterwards. The facts are some things never change. There will always be a small cegment of society that seeks to have power and control over other. Freedom, as always is something that has to be fought for every so often. Obama was chosen because the PTB didn’t want that just yet. It was a Zanax for the public.

  32. Meadowlarkon 07 Nov 2008 at 11:41 am

    Lydia, you don’t have a blog that I can see. I think much of what you asy will come to pass. Stop by my place and reach out and say Hello. :)

  33. Basiaon 07 Nov 2008 at 12:55 pm

    thank you Sharon, it is very touching…
    Basia

  34. Ellenon 07 Nov 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I love Obama, but I also worry about whether he’s prepared to keep up with the massive problems headed our way. I read an article on alternative energy last night that gave me some hope though… in an interview, Obama mentioned reading an article by Michael Pollan about our fossil-fuel based agriculture, and he gave a very nice summary to the interviewer about the big problems with our current monoculture system. I think he may have been referring to Pollan’s open letter to the next President that he published a month or two ago, but the article didn’t say. Still, this means Obama is paying attention to some of the issues that are under the radar of most of Washington and the mainstream media, and that are about to hit us hard. It’s so refreshing to have an intelligent President-elect!

  35. Frostwolf in Troyon 07 Nov 2008 at 2:24 pm

    This is a somewhat difficult post for me, as I see an aspect of the change I need to become Gandhi referred to. That man is not necessarily the nicest fellow, but I’ve come to understand that fascism and “niceness” can complement each other in insidious ways. Psychopaths are nothing if not ingratiating.

    In saying the Gandhi thing though, I also see that there are spirit-cords to this terminal system that still manage to clutch at me, for I am in the minority of non-conservatives/non-reactionaries who are actually pained by this election. [And also, I’ve spent a lot of time editing out swear words and “Frostwolf-ese.” (Read: I was sprinkling the c-word which I take it is a swear-word to practically everyone (?!); but in Frostwolf-ese: c*nt : vampire as grunt : peon as suit : executive : vampire : well, you get the picture. :) Via the processes of synecdoche and onomatopoeia. Think of the sound vampires’ fangs make sinking into flesh–khnt! and how appropriate the SOUND of the word is to describe Pat Robertson, Cheney, Lush Rimbaugh and other bloodsucking ghouls. Sorry, Eve Ensler wannabes, but that’s Frostwolf-ese for you, and other than the word vEmpire, I have deleted all this other reference passim except for here. I’ve put this one reference at the top where I’m rather dispassionate and bored with it, actually.)]

    I must also apologize for all the parentheticals. You’d think I was a damned Derridean deconstructionist with all this semiotic bullcrap…

    As part of the change/God whose work and joy I am in the process of embodying, I chose not to register to vote. In doing so, I join the likes of Carolyn Baker and Penny Kelly. It’s too much of a soul-suck to take part in adversarial zero-sum politics. (Is that mostly redundant? Aren’t most politics adversarial?) Conflict is one thing, but too often psychopaths take over the process and create satans of others. (”Adversary” is the English word for the Hebrew “satan”; I l.c. “satan” on purpose). And decent people get caught up in the pathocratic matrix and too easily fall into F.E.A.R. They
    F orget
    E verything’s
    A ll
    R ight. Including people you disagree with. Psychopaths are addicted to going for the jugular though and thus turn governance systems into kakistocracies–government by the worst-elements.

    Now, it’s cool that patriotism refers back to mama Gaia-Sophia and I was waiting for someone like you Sharon, to put it in such eloquent words. However, to my mind, any kind of NATIONAL patriotism is oxymoronic, merely turning into jingles for discredited products like 8-track tapes. U.S.A., Brazil, Canada? Meet Beta, the Edsel, the Bubble Dress.

    I can feel patriotism or rather, land-reverence for the Hudson-Mohawk valley where I live or for the land in NoDak or the home-grid of Denver where I grew up and experienced homophobic horror first hand (see below). But each seems as far a cry from each other as from the land-revernce to the Las Vegas desert or the Sangre de Cristo mountains or even the Rockies in northern Colorado. Or in southern Wyoming. Or in central Wyoming or in … you get the picture.

    In thinking of the nation-state, I’m reminded of Thom Yorke of Radiohead who had been approached many, many times by A&R reps from various corp(se)orations in the “music” industry. He would respond to them, “Why on earth would I engage myself with an industry that’s imploding?”

    Each day before I leave work, I pray to be connected to the spirits of the land, the spirit of Troy’s Little Italy nabe, which is actually quite different from the spirits of the Pottery District or Washington Park or the Osborne Nabes I might add. Also the spirit of Troy, the spirits in the Hudson-Mohawk Valley region, the bioregion, the Continent of America (North-South, it’s all one to me!) and then the land and regional and municipal and neighborhood spirits of the entire globe. I don’t ever think to include “Rensselaer County” or “New York State” or “U.S.A.” Why would I add my energies to forms that are dying? Go towards the light and goddess-speed, is what I say to them.

    And as I watch all these houses of cards collapse like in the Tower card of the Tarot, I can’t shake being affected by the election, with its symbolic and diabolic implications. (Symbolic being the opposite of diabolic, q.v.) Many positive things happened inside this system so discredited to my eyes which I won’t attempt to discount. The Symbols have meaning. But the Diabols–the separations and ruptures as embodied by Howard Ahmanson and the mother of Erik Prince (Blackwater) also spoke a violence I find it hard to ignore. The Star Goddess moves in mysterious ways. Yet all the toxic antigay amendments passed because of stoooooooooooooopid-’Merkans attached to their doritos, their brewskies, their twinkies and their (proposition) h8s who are too easily swayed by the windigos among us taking “aGAYnst teh gay.” That is not a typo. Say it out loud. Teh gay. Real intelleckshul, huhzels?

    It’s so easy to point fingers, make someone else the bad guy r/t owning your own S(hame) H(orror) I(gnorance) T(errorism). It is so easy to let that index finger hide the 3 fingers pointing back at you. Look at the missionaries from Uetah who interfered in California’s Proposition Hate. Btw, on my blog, troyalbanytrance.wordpress.com, I propose we change the spelling of Utah to Uetah because spelling it backwards would be “HateU.” Rather close to the truth, right Latter Day (p)Sycopaths? (I also offer some magic spells, so please look and add to the comedy and the love.)

    While I would like to soar Pegasus-like above the fray, the anti-gay factions with their junk mentalities did manage to catch me flat-footed. I was right back there, 18 years old, sitting in the den of my home listening to my parents say to me without irony “that if I was gay they would disown me because they loved me. So you can leave here with the clothes on your back because we love you so much.”

    Talk about vampirism. Talk about abuse. Talk about Hate. Love? I don’t think so! The inquisitors loved the so-called witches and the plantation owners loved their runaway slaves like this. Love. Bah!

    I sit here doing kala day after day to transform my RAGE. To transform the negativity and ugliness, the hurt and justifed anger (luxury I can ill afford as a sugar/flour addict) and drink in a purified and cleansed water. The tsunami of hate and stooooooooooopid vehemence — there’s nothing to say. OK. It’s WRONNNNNNNNG. I said it. But as with all addictions, we are all powerless over this fire burning in all national basements, not just the unraveling and unTied States, but also all of the nations the world over. (Except maybe Liechtenstein and San Marino, though I would leave the Vatican out of it as Pope Benec*nt has conflict inside his sovereign citizen’s ass beyond what you and I can ever know.) And because nations are powerless over these unmanageable thugs by definition, and because Katrina has shown us that it’s a paper tiger after all, I feel vulnerable and scared.

    My heart hurts.

    It is with supreme disgust that I draw attention to living in this vEmpire that can even allow for one misguided and toxic group of people to attempt to metastasize their cancerous beliefs and demonize and ostracize and remove rights from another group of people who just want to mind our own business. They’ve crossed the line into emotional manipulations and that is not a line you want to cross with the queers.

    Much of this comes from feelings which don’t need justification. Feelings simply are and you express them. Period. Take offense if you must. But it’s YOUR offense, YOUR choice to be offended. In “the rooms” we say Feelings are not facts and facts are not feelings. Valuable information in any integrated decision-making process, but they should be a part of the process not the sum and total, and not shut out into the cold. Sometimes you have to express your outrage and indignation. When someone stands on your foot, you say “get off me!” Guess what? I’m screaming, “There’s a fire down in the basement. You clods, get off me right now. and Let’s go contain it before it does some damage!!!” First comes getting out of the frickin’ pain, then we can talk.

    This God is enraged all right. And if I didn’t have a partner who I adore and love, I would move to Vermont–at least some people are sane enough there to talk secession! Though I wonder if even Vermont is “too big.”

    That took a lot longer than I thought it would. Guess I had a lot to say. And a lot of stuff that was uglier than what you see here to delete. It really was a lot worse than this.

  36. Don 07 Nov 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Zucchini - hear hear!

  37. risa bon 07 Nov 2008 at 4:12 pm

    http://www.jackandjillpolitics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/rally1.jpg

  38. Bailout for Laymen « The Small Axeon 07 Nov 2008 at 9:23 pm

    […] habitable for our grandchildren.  Sharon over at on Casaubon’s Book has got another great post talking about the changes we must all deal with today : At fundamental levels, our structures must […]

  39. Chrison 08 Nov 2008 at 1:50 am

    Hi Sharon.

    First time poster, but I read your blog religiously. It’s obvious you feel some kind of hope with this election. I pray you are correct, however I simply can not share your enthusiasm.

    In the past, great men and great presidents were just that…men. And they felt a responsibility to the people who elected them. Today, presidents are a product.

    Ron Paul was a great man. A man of integrity, honesty and vision. Alas, he will never be allowed to assume the throne in the US. President Elect Obama may in fact be a good man, but the very fact that media supports him, and that the establishment has spent upwards of 2 billion dollars promoting him, means he will be a great man and responsible to THEM, not to us.

    I respect you immensely for your commitment to individual action. Your message is one of hope. I just don’t want to see you be disappointed, and I fear that any belief that a president of the establishment may offer assistance to the ordinary people will bring nothing but disappointment.

    Obama, like McCain or Bush before him, is likely nothing more than a mouthpiece for the economic power masters behind the scene. I celebrate the fact that you feel a renewed sense of possibilities, but please make sure that future disappointment does not change your very necessary message of individual action in the face of government for the corporate interests.

  40. Hummingbirdon 08 Nov 2008 at 6:38 am

    Wanna

    Bush did not “win” a second term (or even the first) because the people voted for him. The elections were STOLEN as has been well documented in Ohio and Florida.

    This election was not stolen either because the numbers for Obama were too overwhelming or because the Republicans know the financial system can’t be fixed and want the responsibility to fall on the Democrats.

  41. Ginaon 08 Nov 2008 at 10:07 am

    I don’t know if this will help or not those who don’t share the same hope as some of us are feeling, but maybe you could look beyond who the elected person is and whether he is a mortal man or not and look instead at the hope of “the people”. In 2004, I had discovered blogs by then and I read the hope and fear of a nation of bloggers when Kerry/Bush stepped to the podium. People were quite vocal about not wanting Bush again (myself included), but little was really said about Kerry.

    This time around, instead of heart-numbing depression, we have a large population of hopeful people. That has to mean something whether you believe in Obama or not. Personally, I have a lot of trouble with Biden (he is far too conservative for me), but I feel the hope in people who are seeking a change. It’s not that there may be change (too early to predict that), but the fact the US population (and also abroad) has smiled again after an election has to mean something! It won’t save the world, but it feel good again to have a little hope.

  42. Michealon 08 Nov 2008 at 1:08 pm

    In lieu of evidence, there is always faith.

    There is real hope in selecting the correct escape route.

    May You Be Among The Survivors

    ~micheal~

  43. John Pon 08 Nov 2008 at 10:17 pm

    First time reader and poster. Completely agree with your observation that great presidents became so by rising to the challenge that was thrust upon them. I like even better your suggestion that Providence placed these men at the appropriate times in our history.

    Now the part that you won’t like.

    I wonder how many who voted for president-elect Obama did so to get a slice of the “[coast] on cheap energy and plenty of wealth” largesse.

    Moreover, Lincoln’s deep faith shines through his speech, and that faith in G-d (spelled in deference to our hostess’s sensiblities) sustained him and guided him through his herculean task. Mr. Obama is not cut of that cloth, so what will sustain him? May that same G-d have mercy on us all.

  44. clewon 09 Nov 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I don’t think I’ve seen this here, but it reminded me of you:

    Serve Your Country Food… the Astyk-ism would be ‘Serve Your Country Dinner’, maybe, but close enough!

  45. Loretta M.on 09 Nov 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Dream on, what a disaster for our nation!

  46. Robert Rothon 10 Nov 2008 at 11:37 am

    I think I agree with you completely about Obama, except that I would add what kind of president he becomes isn’t all about the man, or even the circumstances, but partly about whether the millions who elected him can evolve into a movement to bring out the best in him. FDR didn’t arise out of himself, or even the Depression, but out of the pressure from strong movements including labor, and pressure toward fundamental reform of capitalism.

    As for patriotism, I’d like to suggest William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report for July 7, 2008. It was posted on ZSpace. Blum has a website at http://www.killinghope.org/ but I can’t find the patriotism essay there. If you’re interested please email me and I’ll send it as an attachment to an email.

  47. Auntiegravon 10 Nov 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I live among a vast unrepentant racist colony of people and family. For many reasons, the people I have run into have been bitter and angry about the election. I respond to them by telling them to remember that no matter how someone voted, they voted for a better future. Then I remind them that there is no such thing as “trickle-down” economics, only “evaporating-up wealth”, which we all provide through the activities we engage in. I tell them that it is up to us as people and neighbors to make the things happen which we want to happen. The government needs us, We Don’t Need Them. (See D.V. Carpenter’s essay http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Nov05/Carpenter1102.htm )

    You said “we have yet to see what kind of people Americans will turn out to be.” (paraphrased)

    Exactly. Will we continue the petty bickering over who gets to keep wasting our planet? I don’t think so. Those who are doing the most damage are realizing that they can’t afford it now because they can’t get a loan.

    Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the coming Depression. It might be the only thing that can save our planet.

    P.S. Don’t worry about the handiness too much. I can do anything, but it does me no good if my starving neighbors destroy it all. Just keep worrying about food, and the handy people will come calling and trading.

  48. Curtis Barneson 09 Jan 2009 at 4:32 pm

    hi
    jawwv7j0iv4y7hsj
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