Wednesday, June 06, 2007

home of the brave

Our second baseball excursion was much less eventful. The Sox lost (blah) and we didn't see a single fight. I did see the churro man though, and I smiled at him broadly and thought of all of you.

I always struggle with the American national anthem. It's a strange feeling because I feel all resistant as it starts and then I get all choked up during. I've never been a huge fan of red rockets glaring and the like. And I am always confused at the end by the land of the free and the home of the brave....everyone goes nuts during that part and I always wonder what identification with this bravery means. In the historical context there have been many instances of incredible bravery, but bravery costs, if not us, them. Or us and them. We. And it feels sullied with wicked wars and capitalism, fear and greed. Individuals are brave, we endure, we stand up. But we as a nation seem rather afraid of a lot of things. What does it really mean to be brave in the west today? How do we demonstrate our bravery in the midst of so much fear?

Check out these apples. I don't know if it's brave, but it sure as heck is beautiful and generous and kind and just. If you haven't had a chance to get in on our Just Post Fundraising Project then be sure to check it out becauase we've got a few more days to raise the roof. We plan on featuring the grand total next week right after the Just Post Roundtable. Makes me feel all warm inside, just thinking about it.


thailandchani said...

Complicated question. I'd like to know what you think.

I don't think nationalist fervor really has much to do with bravery. Those who identify with it probably do it because it makes them feel less vulnerable. You know, they're hanging out with the Big Kids and no one can hurt them. You can't hurt me because my big brother will kick your ass!

Beyond that, I'm afraid I have no answers.. Wish I did. When I see people acting as you described here, it just scares the hell out of me.



carrie said...

I feel exactly the same way about the National Anthem.

Whooopeeeee on the fundraising front!!!


Gary said...

Maybe brave means not to allow yourself to be infected by all the fear around you, and to hold on to your path.
As you do.

slouching mom said...

I've always been repelled by that anthem, how jingoistic it is...

But there's something about so many people sweetly singing on a dime that gets to me every time.

Christine said...

I am so impressed by the giving.

The pledge makes me feel the same way as the anthem, only more so. I was in my daughter's class last week as the kids were doing it, and i almost wanted to leave, but I stayed and stood with hand on heart.

Chani is right, this is so complicated. . .

QT said...

I guess I will be the odd man out and say I love the Star Spangled Banner. I think it is too easy for us to forget that this country, as crap as it is now, was founded by dissenters that wanted freedom. I bawl every time I hear it, because we are no longer free.

Call me a dreamer, but I refuse to lose hope in this country of ours and the fact that it can once again belong to us, the way it is supposed to.

Julie Pippert said...

At times it is tempting to throw out the baby with the bath water and completely reject anything nationalistic, out of pure disgust with so much of what the government (President) is doing today. But then I think about:

* things people are doing, like the Just Post Open Arms,

* the fact that I can write these thoughts to you and put them on the public Internet

* the entire history, good and bad

* my big house, my two cars, my plethora of things, the big fat overstuffed grocery store

* my expectation that my children will grow up safe and healthy with an education

* that people, people I know, have been willing to DIE so I can live this way

and I really appreciate what I do have that's good and I know that's where that song comes from for me, so the choking up is understandable.

Of course I still can't stand a lot of what's happening now and disagree with Bush on most of his policy, feel worried I don't have as much freedom as I like to think, and so forth.

I can't think of a good metaphor or explanation but I think it's like love the US-disagree with certain leaders. And I am optimistic b/c I believe the pendulum always swings back.

So I love the song and sing it with deep respect and emotion.

P.S. I do think Chani is on to something with the feeling of togetherness. it might be thuggy in some cases, bur I don't think that's the majority,

Karen Forest said...

I, too, have a deep respect for the anthem and pledge. I think it is not because of where we are today, but where we, as a country, have been.

And I think "brave" is still alive and very well. Our nation is still protected by a volunteer military. There is no draft. These men and women believe in a much bigger cause. This military, and these men and women have allowed for us to live in the most "free" country there is. Good or bad. And I prefer to see the good.

I think the building up of emotion that is displayed during "land of the free and home of the brave" is that of individuals celebrating the people who have sacrificed so that we can sit in a stadium and listen to the song as it plays.... for wouldn't it be sad if such a sacrifice was made and nobody cared?

Lawyer Mama said...

When I hear "land of the free and the home of the brave" I tend to think more about how our country was founded. It took incredible bravery and just plain gumption to stand up and fight for our right to self-govern. Our founding fathers and mothers and every person in the colonies had a lot to lose.

Yes, we've strayed pretty far from the ideal, but I try to keep how and where we came from in mind.

Whenever anyone tries to tell me that my disagreement regarding the war in Iraq is treasonous, I remind them that dissent is what founded our country. If we ever lose the ability or right to speak our minds, then we lose what makes us great.

WONDERFUL total for Open Arms!

jen said...

You know, i was nervous posting this as i didn't want to sound simply "un-american". because that isn't it. anti-capitalistic perhaps. or anti-unnecessary suffering.

the concept of conscious bravery is what i am wondering about - because i, too, want to believe.

and i think that is why it makes me want to cry and resist all at the same time.

thailandchani said...

Jen, I've had some of the same reservations about posting something like this. Accusations of anti-Americanism have been thrown around kind of freely for the past several years. I've been accused of it too many times to count.

What they're really saying is "if you don't support the government, you're against America."

There is no way in the world I will ever support the foreign policy of the US. I'm not happy with the culture, either. But that doesn't mean I don't support the people.

In Thailand, they have two names for the country. There's Muang Thai which means the land itself. There's Prathet Thai which means "the people".

We need some way to say that here, too. We can support the people of a nation (although not "above" the people of any other nation) and still not support the government.

They're not one and the same.

So maybe we can say "I support the American people"?

Seem to have written a post in your comments section. :)



Bon said...

as a Canadian, i've always had a weird relationship with the American anthem, finding it both waaaay more musically and narratively compelling than our own (which is dull, dull, dull and doesn't have any of that nice trilling), and at the same time being vaguely repelled by the fervent, worshipful, earnestness it seems to inspire. i suppose mostly because my experience of it is limited to sporting competitions - which i find fascinating but vaguely repellent - and nationalistic contexts - in which American-ISM has always seemed rather overwhelming, at least from this perch on the border.

very interesting conversation.

Jenn said...

My mind wanders the same path as Lawyer Mama when I hear the anthem; the history that led to those words; the bravery of those that the words were written for. And, inevitably, to my Grandfather--what he believed when he entered the war, and what he knew when it was over.

That is the part that makes me cry.

Every time.

mayberry said...

I think people go nuts at that part because it's OVER and now time to play ball!

Susanne said...

So now I might have to go and find a version of the Star-Spangled Banner to listen too. One that's not Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Hm.

Anti-Germanism? Bwhahaha? We Germans don't tend to think of our nation highly. Well, not any longer and not in public.

(And while there is a German word for Anti-Americanism, there isn't one for Anti-Germanism. Sorry, I have to laugh every time I type this.)

I'm not much for the "my people are better than your people"-talk. But I like to belong somewhere. When I was a teenager I thought I didn't want to, but nowadays it feels good to know that this land is in my bones and soul. Not that I am that fond of it's politics either.

thailandchani said...

One more comment and then I'll stop. I promise.


Bravery is getting up each day, putting one foot in front of the other and doing what needs to be done.

It has nothing to do with guns and power. It has nothing to do with nationalism. It has nothing to do with power over others.

It is simply having the grace and the grit to step forward every day and be there.

Just my opinion.. on bravery.



jen said...

Mayberry cracks me up.

Chani, I agree w/ your concept of bravery (and please don't stop).

That is what i was intimating to with conscious bravery. It's the expense of bravery to others that i struggle with - and your comment alleviates that.

But is it actually possible for a nation to govern in this fashion?

thailandchani said...

It depends on the government's objectives...

Okay. Obviously, I haven't stopped. :)

flutter said...

Bravery is sacrifice, commitment to the welfare of others, the ability, the willingness and the history of putting the good of others before the good of yourself.
Bravery is action over words, bravery is grace and strength in the face of insurmountable odds.
Bravery has everything to do with what is IN you and very little to do with what is around you.

QT said...

jen, I don't think your post is anti-american at all. In fact, it is the very definition of what it should mean to be an american!

I like the anthem because it reminds me of what the vision of this country WAS, at one time. The fact that a group of dissenters wanted a place where ideas could be exchanged openly, where they weren't forced to worship the "King's God", where there could be...wait for it...a representative government for and by the people - what a grand and wonderful concept.

I think during this time it is easy for us to despair. This song reminds me that it is not the first time our liberties were challenged. I know people that think it is incredibly violent and hate it. I don't think that means they hate the US of A.

The irony of it all is that right now, there is another country fighting us because they want us to LEAVE so they can govern themselves. I wish every day with all my might that we would just do that - let them govern themselves. We have plenty to worry about here at home.

The Holmes said...

I'm never quite sure what to do with the national anthem either. Hearing it does affect me, but I feel resistant to it, which I suppose stems from my disappointments in my country, not to mention the fact that I am skeptical towards nationalism of any kind. It's a round world last I checked. Still, something about it.

About a month after 9/11, I was at a concert where all of a sudden the crowd spontaneously started chanting "USA" over and over again. I just couldn't bring myself to join in. Maybe some people find comfort in that kind of unity, but I never seem to be able to.

urban-urchin said...

to love your country is not to go along blindly with every policy just because... We Americans are able to question- to dissent- to not sing the anthem- to not say the pledge - to write blog posts about our displeasure with the current administration and KNOW we and our children will be safe in doing so.

When I hear the anthem I too think of the bravery of the individuals who fought to found our nation, and I get choked up every time.

Karen said...

oh, do I ever struggle with this - and so much -and I worry about raising my three boys in this climate, I don't want them making heroes out this war, but I don't want them to be publicly disrespectful and catch hell for it at school or on the playground - or even at church, God forbid, but we do worship with some conservatives, though I think it's balanced over the whole more or less. I want to share that there is meaning in taking actions that are brave, but that these things take place on an individual level, standing up for someone being picked on, choosing to not be bullied, over overflowing with love for your little brother in front of your friends even though they think he might be "icky" cause he's a baby - oh, if I could inspire them to those small braveries now, I'd be a happy mother.

Christine said...

I am with qt in that your post was not anti-American at all. Simply being able to be here to say anything we want is in itself is as American as it gets.

Momish said...

I too feel like lawyer mama with regards to taking the lyrics of the song into the context of when they were written. However, I do feel they give support throughout the ages. When I think of America and it's people's bravery, I look at the woman's rights movement, abolishment of slavery, sending people into space, fighting for human rights, democracy, etc.

There are many things Americans have done over the years that have set the tide for progress beyond industrialism. I know its hard to appreciate when there is a McDonald's tainting another country with each new day!

Beck said...

Bravery is still a good thing, like my four year old boy walking straight-backed into the doctor's office knowing that he would get needles that, his sister told him, "REALLY REALLY HURT."

meno said...

My favorite part of any ball game is the national anthem. Not because i am a huge fan of blind patriotism, but because it is very stirring to hear 30,000 people singing together. It makes me cry.

KC said...

This is such a great discussion- totally late to this party. But I second so many. Especially karen f and qt.

And the song? The song makes us feel good. United by our history, coming together during this one moment. National anthems are powerful that way.

Aliki2006 said...

I always have the same response to the National Anthem, too--and I hate being all mixed up emotionally when it comes on. What always gets me each time, too, is all the people removing their baseball caps/hats--that chokes me up everytime.

Rav said...

Bravery, I believe, is relative. For some of us, simply getting up to face another day is brave. Getting up after being knocked down is brave. I think a lot of people believe that bravery is something that is reserved only for a certain few, like soldiers, police, and firepersons. But what many people fail to realize is there are others out there who are brave just by being. Jen, I have read your blog for quite a while now, and I don't believe I have ever commented. My wife, Tabba, got me hooked on you. I must say that Jen, I find you, and so many others that blog, my wife included, so very brave. You put your thoughts and feelings out there for others to read, and allow them to comment, for good or bad. You say what is on your minds and stand up for what you believe in. You may not be getting shot at, or run into a burning building, but none the less, you are brave and you should be proud. If only this land of the free were the home of more of the likes of you all.

Karen said...

At Commencement today we sang America the Beaitiful, including the third verse, which moved me today having recently read your post.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

I was moved to think, what really is liberating strife? It's not what we're doing now, but it might exist if one loved mercy more than one's own life - or one's own livelihood or comfort or privacy or convenience, this is the kind of bravery that is most likely going to be asked of me, allowing myself to be inconvenienced, rattled up, shaken up for the sake of other's rights, other's freedoms, not just my own right to exist here and drive whatever car I like and hope we stop this war and hope we fight hunger. Our commencement speaker advocated service leadership to our graduates - till all success be nobleness? - for some of them that will resonate, others own family's expectation are for personal success in the business or academic world, not leading our world to close the income gap through lives of service. Ultimately that will be harder to do, it will require bravery in a way that maybe med school, when it's expected of one, wouldn't. It takes a certain amount of bravery just to fight inertia, to stop and decide.
I''ve often wished America the Beautiful were our national anthem, and I think maybe the speech I heard today got my brain processing what kind of patriotism I am looking for - as verse two states - America, America, God mend thy every flaw. I like the kind of patriotism in which we can say out loud that there are flaws and that in the mending, heroes will be proved.

crazymumma said...

I always liked your anthem.