Monday, September 12, 2011

What's really patriotic

Nicollet Mall Farmer's Market in Minneapolis
Do you love your community, but hate the way patriotism is expressed -- or encouraged -- in the USA?  Here's how you can really show your love for your country, and the people with whom you share it:

1. Buy local.  Support your local community by shopping for food at farmer's markets, and even by buying things like beer and wine that are produced locally.  I bet your state has at least one really excellent craft beer available that was brewed in the state.

2. If you must own a car, buy an American car.  This isn't as cut-and-dry as it seems at face value, of course, since many of the cars we make here have parts made elsewhere, or are assembled in other countries.  But it is a start.

Chevrolet Cobalt
3. Support unions.  Unions ensure that the workers who make your clothing, cars, and infrastructure, as well as those who teach our children, care for our sick and elderly, and many, many more things, are well-compensated and continue to have the right to negotiate for better pay, health insurance, and working conditions.

4. Support renewable and clean energy.  No, coal is not "clean."  By supporting these types of energy, we will lessen our reliance on foreign energy sources.  No, the Keystone XL pipeline isn't good enough.  We don't need to continue our reliance on oil; this much is abundantly clear and painfully obvious.  Oil is not renewable.  Oil is not renewable.  Once more for good measure:  Oil is not renewable.  Causing immense pollution and ecological disaster will not make it so, and the terrorists will not win because we have some windmills.  I'm also convinced that the people who claim that windmills and wind farms are eyesores have either never seen one in real life, or they are simply lying in hopes that the public will decide they agree with them.  Because wind farms are some of the coolest-looking human-made structures I've ever seen.  What better way to express your pride in the craftsmanship of our fellow citizens than by taking a moment to appreciate some of the profoundly amazing things that we've built?

Minneapolis Public Library
5. Visit local, state, and national parks and libraries.  These invaluable public resources are kept and maintained for our enjoyment, and are public places that we can all enjoy.  Get out of your house once in a while and see what your community -- and your tax dollars -- have to offer.

6. Learn about the history of your town, city, and/or state.  Learning where you come from will help you understand why you're there.  Learn about the people who founded the town or city where you live.  Learn about the cultural history that shaped, and continues to influence, where you live.  

Off-shore wind farm on Cape Cod
It is notable that many of these suggestions involve pride in one's local community, rather than the entire country as a whole.  It's no secret that I have immense civic pride-- I love Minneapolis, and the Midwest as a whole.  I find this to be very different from a blind allegiance to one's nation.

This local pride, as opposed to nationalist pride, should please right-wingers who constantly extol the benefits of stronger states' rights, as they pretend to believe in a more localized governing of our country, as many of the Founders intended.  Of course, they're lying, and only follow such principles (or claim to believe in them) when it benefits them-- never when profit may be directed elsewhere by the real free market.  And anyway, following any number of these recommendations would be unfavorable to those who perpetuate the jingoistic, fascist kind of patriotism that we face today.  We all know there isn't enough massive profit for multinational corporations to make if we all bought local.  And if we all started using the library more often, they might have to admit what we already know -- that taxes are, in fact, useful and beneficial.  And, of course, sustainable energy doesn't make any money for Big Oil and Big Coal, so they'll do anything to oppose it.  Also, knowledge is dangerous to them because it helps foster a true democracy, and they all know that if the people were really in charge as we're always told we are, that they wouldn't get away with the massive exploitation of humans and the environment that they do now.  Hell, it's probably only a matter of time before the shock doctrine kicks in everywhere, and we don't even have the options listed above available to us anymore.

Good luck to us, I guess.

What are some ways that you show your pride in your community?