Two days before the 4th of July, I was walking Tomo, and my friend’s dog, Willie, who for some unknown reason I refer to as Wilson, on a truly magnificent Colorado night around 11 PM. The sky was perfectly clear and the stars seemed aware they were on display. Even the gnats and mosquitoes had taken the night off. I had just finished the second half of a gram divided between two doobies. The strain was…who cares, that’s not what this article is about.
As we came down the backstretch of our walk, Wilson wandered a few feet into a yard and found a well-rooted candidate he was considering to baptize. At the base of the tree, were two small American flags, the nine inch plastic flagpoles jammed into the soil at forty-five degrees, deeply enough to secure them, but not so far in as to cause the 6×4 inch flags to make contact with the ground.
Before Wilson’s brain could decide whether the location was pissworthy, I gently, but firmly tugged him away from urinating on Old Glory, and it got me thinking…
I am far from a flag waving nationalist, having studied many of our ‘interventions’ in Chile, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, etc, and the list of domestic abuses, but I have to say, despite all of our missteps, I’m still glad to be an American. Allowing Wilson to pee on the tiny flags was something I couldn’t tolerate. But, I thought, what if they had been the flags of a brutal, extremist regime? Would I allow the dog to defecate on the flag of our mortal enemy; an enemy known to murder, behead, and execute innocent people?
As I searched my heart and mind for the answer, I suddenly came to a definitive response, a resounding NO! Our enemies may act as barbarically as they can imagine, but I will NOT denigrate another country’s flag. By refusing to allow Wilson to pee on a flag, I may not be BETTER than my enemy, but I am more human, more humane. Consciously desecrating my enemy in any way, lowers me to less than human status. To me, that is what it means to be an American.
I can’t change the massive mistakes in our country’s past, but I can embody the traits that still make America great. Do the right thing. Take the moral high ground. Control my anger and be a better human. Be more humane. As Americans, let’s celebrate our humanity this 4th of July.