I need to preface this with a confession, taken from my latest Facebook status. “I’m afraid I’m a hopeless introvert.” It is true. Probably part of my aversion to 4th of July parades, county fairs, and all those fun American things is that I just don’t like people much. I mean, there are particular people I like, and some I like very much, but I find the general population to be so insipid, close-minded, self-centered, and utterly boring that I don’t really care much for being around people. Under certain circumstances, I enjoy watching people, but I find it hard to interact with them. Anyways…I’m sure some people get a warm, fuzzy feeling when they attend a 4th of July parade, it just doesn’t happen for me.
So, today I was attending the 4th of July parade in a small town nearby, rather reluctantly. I think my mother worries about me sitting at home alone, happily reading a book while everyone else enjoys the festivities of the day; consequently, I was persuaded to attend. I got the most pleasure out of seeing my baby brother become overwhelmed with excitement at seeing so many tractors, trucks, and other loud motor vehicles. As in any small Midwest town, we had a super-abundance of tractors in the parade. Of course the parade started with the police. We got a lot of fire engines too. And some politicians. And several military/veteran groups. Eventually the businesses came around (and they threw more candy than any gov’t participant, I might add) and then the tractors and so forth.
I really think that the 4th of July parade should be made up entirely of tractors, businesses, and other forms of free market contributions. Instead of the 4th being a celebration of our government, it should be a celebration of our culture and our heritage. Having just finished a book that took place partially in the Midwest, it was very inspiring for me to see the antique tractors and farm equipment that has shaped our community. The technology and resources are all a result of voluntary interactions of the free market. We should celebrate those who sacrificed present consumption so we might enjoy better farm machinery and therefore cheaper, more abundant food. We should honor those who risked their fortunes and life to improve society with a more efficient method of planting, harvesting, or processing crops. We should celebrate those who instead of sitting back and collecting unemployment, toiled long hours in hot, dusty fields to earn an honest living. Such was my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who even after their children were grown and married, moved to the Rockford area and bought a farm. My great-grandfather had a manufacturing job, and my great-grandmother spent her days working the 160 acres of our farm…only to come inside in the evenings to lay the beautiful hardwood floors that are still in our house today. And this was in the midst of WWII, with all the uncertainty and fear surrounding it. So many Americans just plodded on, growing food, raising animals, and keeping the lifeblood of the country flowing.
This morning we had a discussion about patriotism. I was explaining to my sisters that patriotism implies loyalty to and love of your government. That’s why I don’t like the word patriotism. I wish there was a good English word for loyalty to and love for your society, your culture, your community, your heritage. We could only come up with, “I love the geographical area of North America known as the Midwest,” which is, admittedly, very clumsy. But that’s what we should celebrate and appreciate, not the acts of violence, aggression, and force which our government has been committing since 1789.