Saturday, July 4, 2020

Independence from Dogma:

Dear July Fourth,

Did I eve tell you about the time an elderly French gentleman (with a tie, jacket, and cane- un flâneur véritable) met me in the door way of a Paris bistro?  Il sortait alors que j'entrais.  He was being aided down the stone step by a waiter in striped pants and a long white apron.  The staff knew him by name;  he might have been dining at that place for 60 years.  We made way for him to leave, and he asked me where we were from, in English, and I said "California," and he said "Oh!  America!  I love America!"  I think my expression must have been comme ça:  A puzzled Pourquoi?  He asked me didn't I love America?  I muttered that it was "all right," because I didn't think he meant what I might have by loving America.  He kept prodding me to to agree with him on the lovable-ness of America, and I kept deferring.  You can make your own list of what you don't like about America, but the biggest two items on my list are oppression and Capitalism.

But, what made me uncomfortable about being asked to join in a few harmless, neighborly, and kind words about my native country?  I ask you, how would you feel if asked to celebrate your country?  Would you think of the mistakes and cruelties?  Or, some other intangible, some kind of pride or idealism? 

Here is what I truly love about America:  roads, the great Native American West and South West, the rocks, the trees, the mountains, the gorges, rivers, beaches, milkshakes, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, bowling alleys, roller skating rinks.  I love the land and occasionally I love a few of the people, and I like some of its junk food.  But I don't love these phony ideologies, and even kind, well meaning, cultured French men from another era can't make me.