Monday, February 13, 2017

All we have to fear is fear itself.

There are a lot of alarming things coming out of the White House this month. It is particularly alarming that this will go on the another 200+ weeks!
But today my focus is on fear.
There once was a time when Americans were born and bred into a form of national bravery. Bravery in some fashion was almost a national religion. We admired frontiersmen/women for their bravery in setting out to explore the unknown, we admired our military for their bravery in facing our enemies, and we built a national image of ourselves based on that admiration.
We faced down adversaries who were bigger than ourselves, who had bigger militaries and stronger national presences abroad. We invoked the Monroe Doctrine, which dared the much stronger and older European powers to face our ire if they meddled in the Western Hemisphere, and we did it at a time when we were not exactly a match for any of them.
We fought in WWI, sending our bravest into a war which literally changed the face of the world.
We used our tremendous industrial base, secure from foreign invasion by two immense oceans, as a powerhouse to allow us to fight and WIN against two opposing coalitions on the opposite sides of the globe, mobilizing the entire population to do so.
"Home of the Brave". That's what our national anthem calls it, this United States of America. We have made a national icon out of this.
We bolster our courage every 4th of July by parading this picture of ourselves through our streets and across our computer screens, patting ourselves on the backs for facing down our enemies.
Not any more.
For over thirty years, especially since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has capitalized on our fears. Fear of Big Government, fear of the different, fear of this, fear of that. Fear of anybody whose culture we don't understand.
Their constant mantra has been to stir fear about anything they could imagine that might in some way, change our country, or make something different happen. It is all touted as dangers to America, and threats to our Democracy, to The American Way of Life. Brown people, black people, yellow people, people with long hair, people who dress different. People who (gasp!) speak a different language! (GOD forbid we should have to select English with a tap of a button...)
We spend more money, combined, than the next 7 highest spending countries on our military (including both Russia and China), and we brag about having the largest and strongest military in the world. We imagine that we are still capable of taking on two wars at once. We have seven aircraft carriers to project American power anywhere in the world in mere days, if not a week or so.
Our machinations around the world have resulted in our development and establishment of hundreds of military bases around the world, which we can use to project our air power and often, special forces power, just about anywhere we need to.
Those machinations have changed history.
...and yet, fear.
The Republican Party has managed to turn us into a nation of fearful little mice, scurrying to hide behind any convenient excuse - a wall, a blanket ban, an ocean or two, anything to protect ourselves from these foreign horrors. We hold our military in front of us, like a shield, anytime we feel challenged (which is almost constantly) in our Supreme Position of the Defenders of Pax Americana. We shake those sabers at those who frighten us, and at those who even seem to be thinking about challenging our Supremacy.
What, what has become of the Home of the Brave? Land of the Free?
What has allowed us to let this happen to us? Why are we afraid? Our parents weren't afraid. Neither were our grandparents.
Why us, why now?
Why do we let nasty little men cower behind the White House doors and under the Capitol dome and pronounce unAmerican edicts and orders that violate the very values and principles that this country was founded on?
Is this OUR country, or are we going to let these nasty little men undercut everything we stand for?
We should be standing tall, beside each other, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, opposing all who would undermine our democracy. All who would violate the principles of democracy and fairness.
Those who bring fascism to our shores. Those who wrap themselves in the flag and lift up that cross in an effort to DESTROY the freedoms that really made this country great.
That cross didn't make this country great. Neither did the flag.
The PEOPLE did. People from virtually every ethnic group on the planet. People from every corner of the globe, almost literally. 
Immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. If we allow these nasty little men to dictate to us who can come and who can go based on their nasty little prejudices and hatreds, we disgrace the memory of every person of every ethnic group who died to make this country what it is today. We disgrace the work and the blood, sweat and tears of the entire lives' work that went into what we have today.
Let's not let that happen.
Shed your fear.
Stand up. Face down the tyrants, those nasty little men.
Let's show them what real Americans are made of.

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