“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 handful of 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. We (my mom, dad and brother and I) came as refugee-immigrants when I was 7 and I have lived here on and off for almost 4 decades of my almost 58 years on this planet. I also 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 and their army. (BOOM! Think about this, no, I mean just think about why they thought they could/should roll in, in the context of this missive). And, I love Switzerland. I lived there for 13 years while trying to escape me and the internal stuff I carried from happenings to and around me in the Czech Republic and 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 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 could not, for the life of me, understand 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, wanna-be Swiss, or even smarter-than-the-Slovaks-Czechs, when we were still one country.
This is important: I am not ungrateful to have had a place like Canada to come to when those pushy Soviets rolled in so rudely, as I sat on my grandma Mrnka’s knee in Karlovy Vary, on that memorable August day in 1968 (revisit BOOM, here). I am not ungrateful to have had an opportunity to live and love in Switzerland (even if I had to marry an asshole to do it in the beginning), when I found myself in serious peril as the result of keeping the company of some very unsavoury Vancouverites, and had to conduct a speedy exit. I am not ungrateful that years later, I was able to return to the place my dad traded his life for, in order that my brother and mom and I, could have one.
My point, quick and dirty: I am not a patriot. The word itself, its etymology and various incarnations are problematic for me, but you can check it out for yourself. 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 come to: there is no space in those two ways of being, without crossing the line of racism. I do my damn-est not to be a racist. Admittedly, I have had it much easier as an outsider sporting my lily white skin, fitting into ‘foreign’ cultures like Canada and Switzerland, and other countries I have visited, than individuals of a different epidermal hue, and I recognize this as an unearned privilege. Three words, patriotism, ethnocentricity, racism: all connected, all lead to every single one of the world issues we have going on, in combination of why most wars are actually waged. War is not about peace and freedom is not, cannot be, about taking it away from others. Wealth is not about raping and pillaging this planet’s resources so the superior folks 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. 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 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, 2019, from original, written July 01, 2016
(Post image courtesy of Google search ‘earth heart.’)