Ben said, “I never found allegiance to any group appealing and I’m skeptical of folks who do.”
I clicked the like button, scooped up my lunch bag, and headed home from work. I was on my way to a night of homemade organic beef egg noodle spaghetti, garlic bread, and Black Mirror. It was Mrs C’s day off, so she was preparing a big batch of the stuff to get us through the week. We love leftovers. Her spaghetti rocks.
I thought about what Ben said later, at 3:17 in the morning. I never sleep for more than 5 hours on a Tuesday, so Wednesday morning is a great time to reflect on the day that passed, the day to come. Mrs C was sleeping to my right, Ludo at our feet. Moxie was on the floor on her side, like he always is. She was asleep, I think, though my restlessness might have made her restless. Ludo got up and folded into my arms, as he sometimes does when he realizes I’m awake. He usually doesn’t stay for more than five or ten minutes. I suppose it’s his way of telling me that everything is alright. Or maybe his way of letting me tell him. He lay there for a good half hour, maybe 45 minutes.
I finally got out of bed at a quarter to five. My mind did a lot of thinking about that line in the 88 minutes in-between. I completely agree with it.
It reminded me a little of a piece I wrote recently, about how we are not but one thing. For some reason, we try to be. Maybe it’s safer that way, or easier. Easier to define ourselves if we can identify our group allegiance. We don’t have to think so much about life, I suppose. We can just do what other Republicans would do. What other Christians would do. You can blank out those words and put in your own party or religion, or the ones you despise, if you want. Just so you get the point. It’s all group-think.
This is why I can’t identify with jingoism. Blind patriotism doesn’t work for me. Like religion, it’s the ultimate in group-think. I believe that any flag that isn’t a symbol of freedom, first, is just worthless cloth. Colin Kaepernick did more to adhere to the ideals of America by kneeling before the flag than his detractors did by scorning him for it. If the American ideal, as presented by the founding fathers, is about freedom and equality, then he’s the better patriot. If your democracy forces you into allegiance you don’t have a democracy anymore.
So, like Ben, I’m skeptical of anyone who swears allegiance to any group over all people. In our political discourse, the Democrats get it wrong just as often as the Republicans. But in our little part of the world, which makes up less than 5% of the planet’s population, we divide ourselves into these groups, anyway. 31% identify strongly as Democrats. 24% as Republicans. 42% are Independent. We should all be independent. Not one of us should trust any of them entirely.
This is what went through my brain, this morning, between 3:17 and 4:45, while cuddling with a golden retriever. My conclusion was the usual one: we are too polarized. The enemy is not us, but the corpocracy that governs us. They take our gains to fill their coffers and send our poor and young to die for old man greed. Then they demand our allegiance to their flag in the name of freedom. And we buy into it and we point our fingers at each other and tell ourselves that the other is worshiping their greed wrong. In the meantime, our infrastructure fails. Our safety nets have holes. Tens of millions among us have inadequate health care. Millions in the United States do not have access to clean water.
We are, arguably, the richest country in the history of the world, and 45 million of us live below the poverty line.
Our problem is not each other.
I don’t swear allegiance to any group. I am skeptical of folks that do. Every problem has a unique solution. Not a Republican one. Not a Democratic one. A human one. A humane one. Let’s step out of our political rivalries, then – our allegiance to leaders whose only interest is their own – and build a coalition for a better nation. A better people. A better world.
Anything else is just plain lazy.