Oscar Wilde Said:
“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
He was a very clever man, and I still won’t, can’t, wave a Patriot flag!
I love Canada. a few years ago today, as a matter of fact, I was on many airplanes, traveling back to Canada from a going home(s) tour, with the two humans I love most, my mother and my ManChild. My original tribe (my mom, dad and brother and I) came as refugee-immigrants when I was 7 and I have lived here on and off for the better part of 4 decades of my almost 59 years on this planet.
I love the Czech Republic. I was born there when it was still Czechoslovakia and we lived there until the former Soviet Union chose to ‘liberate’ us, with their tanks, operated by Man-Boy toy soldiers (BOOM! Think about this, no, I mean just think about why they thought they could/should roll in, in the context of this missive). As a young adult living in Switzerland, I visited often, after the bonds of that liberation were released, and the Iron Curtain came down in 1989.
I love Switzerland. I lived there for 13 years, in a failed effort to escape me and the internal stuff I carried from happenings to and around me, in the Czech Republic, and as a vulnerable youth in Canada.
All of these places are home to me, the various towns and cities I have inhabited in these countries are all my ‘home-towns,’ and I make only the distinction that one of them is/was my original home town, because I was born there. I made connections, I learned (more) languages, I loved, I lost, I laughed, I cried, I worked, I got married, I got divorced, I had a child, I raised step children, I fucked up, I cleaned up my messes, I did it all again. I LIVED, functioned, contributed, in all of these places.
From the time I was a small child, I have failed to fathom the vigor with which some of the natural born-natives, and I use that term loosely, of these countries, posited their better-dom (yes, that is a word), over other folks, including quasi-Canadians like me, wanna-be Swiss, or even smarter-than-the-Slovaks-Czechs, when we were still one country.
Please hear this, for this bit is important: I am not ungrateful to have had a place like Canada to come to when those pushy-pushy Soviets rolled in so rudely, and ruined me and my babi Mrnka’s breakfast as I sat on her knee in Karlovy Vary, on that memorable August morning in 1968 (revisit BOOM, here).
I am not ungrateful to have had an opportunity to live and love in Switzerland when I found myself in serious peril and needed to exit right-the-fuck-yesterday, because keeping the company of some un-savoury Vancouverites.
My point, quick and dirty: I cannot be, a patriot. Why? Just look at what is happening to our neighbours to the South, look to world history, to Germany, and if all that does not make it abundantly clear, look to our own (Canada’s) heinous actions against the Indigenous people of this rock, against the Japanese, the Chinese, against so many other individuals and groups, cultures, which vary, by virtue of skin colour, or norms, from the white Anglo-Saxon box.
The word itself, patriotism, its etymology and various incarnations are problematic for me, but please don’t just trust my word, do feel free to conduct your own research. There is little tying said word to the commonalities we share with every single, culture and ethnicity on this planet, patience, I am getting there.
I am also not ethnocentric. Again, please do check out its origins. From patriotism to ethnocentricity we land here: there is no space in those two ways of being, without crossing the line of racism. I do my damned-est not to be a racist, more importantly, I endeavor to be actively anti-racist. It is rarely to never the popular thing to do in even the most surprising of places, but fortunately, I got over trying to be popular some time ago.
Admittedly, I have had it much easier as an outsider fitting in to the cultures of Canada, Switzerland, and other countries I have visited, than individuals of a different epidermal hue. I have not earned this privilege, my lily-white skin was bestowed upon me at birth, by virtue of two Caucasian parents.
Three words, patriotism, ethnocentricity, racism: all connected, all traceable to every single one of the world issues we have going on, in combination with money, why all wars are actually waged. War is not, cannot by nature, be about peace, and freedom is not, cannot by nature, be about taking it away from others. Wealth is not about raping and pillaging this planet’s resources and other people’s livelihoods, so that the ‘superior folks’ can have (more than) enough, by creating poverty and suffering, and then blaming those whose suffering they have created, for their inadequacy.
From where I sit, we are one type of two-legged, upright humanoid with a number of sub-types based on geography and culture, one home world as we know it, this planet we call Earth.
The research is not united, and frankly I don’t actually give a flying fuck about whether we all stem from one woman somewhere in the African desert, if we are all mongrels, or if any or all of us are aliens who came in on the Tardis with Dr. Who. Genetic research ought to be used well for all our benefit, not abused to create more reasons for fear and hate of ‘other.’ Everything else is politically and socially constructed and geographically determined, and more importantly, it is driven by the almighty dollar, dinar, koruna, frank, euro, gold, silver, shit, call it what you will. It is about money, power and fear mongering, fundamentalism, fanaticism and greed, plain old, greed, and better-than-ism. Yes, that is a word, also.
So no, I still
can’t, won’t, fly my patriot flag today, or any other day, at least not any higher than I would for anywhere else I have enjoyed living, or visited.
~Marcela: Unapologetically yours, and with the utmost gratitude for all my home(s), past, present and future, cause I’m not done here yet.
Edited: July 01, 2020, from original, written July 01, 2016 and edited version of July 01, 2019
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