The Parade and Patriotism

The last parade I watched (in person) was the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, California, a year and a half ago. It’s unique. And quite impressive. But too long. And I doubt I’d ever have the urge to see it again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with parades. But I can think of better things to do with my time. Unless, of course, you want to watch the parade, Vera, in which case I can’t think of anything better to do.

The Fourth of July parade in Carmel, Indiana, where we now live, is apparently a big deal. People staked out their places last week. 

Chairs appeared along the parade route five days before the actual event. And people literally roped off areas to ward against encroachers.

I’ve never seen this kind of behavior in connection with a parade before. I strikes me as a bit weird, but if it works for them, I’m fine with it. The main thing I like about this unusual practice is the confirmation it provides that Carmel is a safe community. In many other communities, all those chairs would be stolen long before the parade got underway.

Far more interesting to me is the whole patriotism thing that surrounds this holiday. We have some neighbors who decorated their properties with patriotic banners, etc. One has a sign in their yard that reads, “God Bless America.” I can’t help but think what is sometimes (not always) implied by this, namely, “God, please give America preference.” Or “put America first.”

Is that anything to wish a parent to do? Apparently, it is. That strikes me as a bit weird.

Patriotism makes me nervous, mainly because history teaches us that people have done a lot of bad things — really bad things — motivated by patriotism. To be fair, however, they’ve done some good things — really good things — too. But the bad things shouldn’t be ignored. At the very least, they’re a reminder we need to be cautious about being swept up by patriotic fervor. It’s important to keep our wits about us. And not allow ourselves to be used by rich, powerful people who are motivated by greed and lust for power. And to take more seriously the taking of human life, no matter the cause.

I’m also a bit wary of flags. And the whole thing about pledging allegiance to one and “the Republic for which it stands.” I’d rather be faithful to principles and values that I deem worthy than to a flag or republic. Too many nations go off the rail even if they began with worthy principles. Ours might be one of those. It certainly looks like it could be. Perhaps it already has.

In the meantime, I hope the people watching the parade today have a good time. And teach their kids about freedom (including freedom of speech and freedom of dissent), the rule of law, peace, the true nature of humanity (both the good and bad), altruism, service, community, justice, equality, character, virtue, civility, sacrifice, humility, truth, honesty, compassion, and all the other good stuff that makes for a great nation.

And ask for all the children to be blessed.

P.S. – Actually, Carmel does Independence Day like no other community we’ve ever seen. The parade is part of Carmel Fest. The sense of patriotism almost spurred me to buy a flag to hang from our front porch! But then I was reminded how corporate America promoted the adoption of this holiday, fundamentally as a pro-immigrant, anti-labor tactic (i.e., to make higher profits and more money for themselves), and I was repulsed by our acquiescence to cultural memes that serve corporate interests to the detriment of the working class. So I’ll skip the flag and propaganda and celebrate the yet-unrealized principle that all persons are created equal, with inalienable rights. And hope that Americans someday enjoy freedom from the narratives that hold them back. 

PPS – Vera did want to go to the parade. So we went. And had a good time.

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