I know that sometimes it’s very hard to love America.
I mean, sincerely. We have a war on women that’s putting us back to suffragette-times, and we have the government doing random nefarious things like listening to us telling our loved ones about our days (EVEN WHEN THEY’RE BORING, seriously, wouldn’t listening to these tapped calls be the WORST?), and we have so much religious shoutery you want to get earplugs permanently implanted, and we have so much insane hatred of the gay community it makes me want to attack someone with nunchucks and we have things like Twilight and Honey Boo Boo.
MERKA! We are the butt of INTERNATIONAL JOKERY! This is embarrassing, sincerely. People in other lands say things like “OMG, so happy I don’t live in America” and “WTH is happening in America” and “HA HA MERKA.”
Yes. America has problems. We yell a lot about a lot of things. We can’t seem to agree on ANYTHING. Everyone seems to really, really enjoy being angry. Like, ALL THE DAMN TIME. Just drive around a little, even if you’re in a good mood, and you’ll catch some good old American anger. I think we might hand it out to new citizens along with their certificates or something. “Here you go! ALL THE ANGER YOU WILL EVER NEED! WELCOME TO MERKA!” The haves are always yelling at the have nots for being lazy teat-suckers, and the have nots are trying REALLY HARD to make ends meet and ignore the yelling. And we’re not very trusting. And why should we be? Our government seems to be kind of like the villain in one those old cartoons that ties the ingenue to the train tracks. Snidely Whiplash. Our government, lately, is like Snidely Whiplash.
I’m more than willing to point out that the Emperor has come out of the palace in his birthday suit. Anyone who reads my blog is aware that I’m not all rah, rah America. Mostly because I like to call it Merka. And pick on it for doing very stupid things. And muse about how it might be nicer to go live in Finland, where they have Midsummer poles (which are most definitely a euphemism.)
However, I’ll tell you something that might surprise some of you.
I love the hell out of my country.
I think it is an amazing place. Sometimes I love it so much it makes me have tears. Sometimes I get so stupidly proud of this sprawling piece of dirt I get GOOSEBUMPS. I know. You’re totally shocked right now. Dad finds it amazing. “No one on the wrong team loves their country as much as you do,” he marvels on a regular basis. “I think there might be something wrong with you.”
(“The wrong team” = Democrats, in case that needed explanation.)
I believe, despite all the problems, America is an amazing place. It is a country full of potential, and beauty, and power, and majesty. It’s a country that, were it to live up to its potential, would be so good. So FINE. A country that other countries could look up to and a country that we could be proud to live in ALL the time, not just some of the time, not just when we get it right, but ALL the time.
Dad says we’re not allowed to say “Happy Fourth of July” today because that’s liberal propaganda. “If you say ‘Happy Fourth of July,” Dad said, because Fox News told him to, “you are shitting on everything our forefathers worked so hard for. It’s not just a DAY. It is INDEPENDENCE DAY.”
“What if I say Happy Birthday Merka?” I asked.
Dad grumbled. “I don’t know. The Real News didn’t say what to do if someone called it America’s Birthday.”
“Because that’s what I like to say. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MERKA! Because you know what everyone likes. BIRTHDAYS!”
Dad grumbled some more. “Well, it’s really Independence Day. That’s what The Real News says.”
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MERKAAAAAAAA! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUUUU!”
“I love birthdays. Also Merka.”
“Fine. Just remember it’s also Independence Day. And don’t bake America a cake because I don’t think America has a mouth.”
“It DOES. Probably the mouth would be the Grand Canyon. I could throw the cake in the Grand Canyon.”
“You. Are. Insane.”
Happy birthday, America.
Happy birthday to the country that brings us Wendy Davis, who knew what was right, and wasn’t afraid to stand up for it, even though the amount of hatred for her in that room would have scared away almost anyone else in the world.
Happy birthday to the country that brought us E. E. Cummings.
Happy birthday to the country that was founded on giving us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Happy birthday to the country that brought us Katelyn Campbell, who said, “you know what? I might be only a high school senior, but this abstinence-only education is factually incorrect, and I’m going to protest it” even though the school’s principal threatened to make sure she wouldn’t get accepted to college if she did so.
Happy birthday to the country that brought us Edward Hopper, who understood what it was to be very, very alone.
Happy birthday to the country that was founded by a bunch of rebellious yahoos who wanted things to be better than where they came from (and who, I’m quite sure, would be horrified with what we’ve done with what they left us; they would, very likely, tell us we’re the reason we can’t have nice things.)
Happy birthday to the country that brought us Rosa Parks, who’d just had enough, and who just wanted to sit the hell down, and didn’t want to have to walk all the way to the back of the bus to do it;
Alice Paul, who asked Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty, even when they put her in jail, even when they force-fed her when she wouldn’t eat, even when it seemed everyone had turned against her;
and Harriet Tubman, who risked her life time and time again to bring others to freedom.
Happy birthday to the country that has beautiful large things…
…and beautiful small things…
…and things that are ridiculous, and wonderful, and beautiful just because they exist, and are filled with whimsy.
Happy birthday to the country that allows me to be as loud as I want, and as wild as I want, and to speak up against what it’s doing…and not go to jail for it, because for all of our faults, we do still have free speech here. We have the Bill of Rights. Which, when I read it, when I read it out loud, I weep. Because it’s beautiful. There are all different types of poetry. The first amendment of the Bill of Rights?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That’s poetry. That’s a group of people who’d had enough, who didn’t want anyone after them to go through what they’d been through; enough so that they made it one of our inalienable rights as Americans.
Happy birthday, and happy independence, Merka. I love you, even though you frustrate me. You’re like a beloved child; no matter how angry I get at you, no matter how much you upset me, no matter HOW MUCH I disagree with your choices, I still love you. I love you furiously. I love you so much it makes me crazy. I love you so much I’d defend you with my life. I love you so damn much I want the absolute best for you.
You are my country, and sometimes you’re a big old weirdo, and yet I still adore you.
(Even though right now I think you’re in that awkward adolescent phase where you’re smoking too much pot and drinking too much and sleeping with questionable partners who are just bound to give you the herp.)
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Merkans. Give your country a hug today, yeah? It’s trying really hard not to be a jerk, sometimes. There’s still some of that glory in there. There’s still wonder. There’s still beauty. There’s still magic.
You just have to look a little harder to find it.