“I’m proud to be an American.” A sentence my dispassionate, subversive-in-intent younger self had never uttered. Maybe it was the semanticist in me that took issue with the concept of pride; I was raised in a house that honored humility, though you might not guess it from my attitude towards the sacrosanct. It could have been the fact that I understood the fundamental concept of a contract and didn’t like the ‘Under God’ clause, shout-out to James Garrison. And that isn’t to say my reluctance was born of a hatred of America; far from it, in fact, as I discovered the concept of fear in the form of stories centered around the deprival of, to me, quintessential American values: tolerance, freedom of expression, compromise. Regardless, I couldn’t find the breath to give life to this outdated concept of American Exceptionalism.; The Internet made an egalitarian out of me very early. After years of being barely conscious and finding only grey, cloudy apathy conjured up when the concept of politics arose (after all, it’s an old man’s game), I found a flash of light that dissipated the fog: Obama was elected President of the United States of America. Not only the first
Kenyan black President, but also a relatively new upstart. He was indicative of a call for change of the status quo that had failed too many people for far too long. Ecstatic doesn’t cover it: I was downright giddy. I had finally won; I had that internal picture of my world reflected back to me. For the first time in my life, I felt validation and connection with the people that shared my country as a majority; I belonged. I felt exuberant as I shouted, smiling: “I’m proud to be an American!” Finally! the world experienced had synchronized with the world imagined. As most highs, though, it was short-lived when pitted against reality. I watched as promises faded into obstruction through reminders that old guards stood, bracing against the wave of change. For better or worse, there was an inertia, dug into the ground, breaking the waves against that-to-come; not impenetrable but obstructive. I watched as some hope I voted for crashed against the backdrop I had forgotten; I had finally won but it was tempered: American Steel. The beauty of the Fathers’ design come to life in the eventually comforting and collecting whisper of: In all things, moderation. My dynamic vision of the world that I so fully believed was the path was quickly mired with opposition of what Pirsig would call the inertia of static quality: the values that form the foundations of the zeitgeist. And that’s the hope I cling onto as I watch regression rear its ugly head again: The world didn’t change overnight. The demagoguery and pandering have existed in a transcendent vacuum where speech is Truth but reality is a bit more skeptical.
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” – Robert Pirsig