‘Patriotism’ is one of those old-fashioned words that remind you of paunchy guys putting their hands to their heart while someone sings the Star Spangled Banner. On the other hand, ‘cool’ is one of those new-fashioned words that fits the young-studs who can tell you just how shallow are many of those flag-wavers. Somewhere between blind jingoism and cocky cynicism is probably the right place to be.
Here’s a test. “A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works!” You didn’t pass it…? Well, neither did I. And yet the stats show that most of us older guys have a greater affection for flag-and-country than you cooler twenty and thirty somethings. You have to wonder why.
I have three possible explanations for you [‘you’ as in anyone at least 30 years younger than my 81]:
* You didn’t live through the Great Depression & WWII
* You didn’t serve in the military
* You didn’t see enough of how Third World countries operate
Hold on….! That’s not some patented old guy trumpeting my-country-right-or-wrong. Not at all, because you can be damn sure such pubescent VFW bravado is tempered by what we’ve learned about the madness of bravado. On the other hand, you can be damn sure most of us have found out the hard way that we really are not self-sufficient-unto-ourselves. We really are not masters of the universe whose creativity and cunning can win every race. And we really are not ‘the best,’ be it deal-maker, career-maker, country, or anything else which today’s slick motivational speakers are telling us!
When you’ve been humbled by time and defeat, you’re just a little more willing to admit we really shouldn’t take so much for granted. Not our own youth, our own genius, nor our own zeal. We’re better off understanding ourselves as cogs in a great wheel called time. And there’s never been a cog that didn’t depend on the way it can mesh with the many gears in which it functions…
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