I get it from my father

July 1, 2013


Tokyo GamesThis is wave the flag week. I’m not a flag waver. It doesn’t bother me that people wish to wrap themselves in the flag once a year (July 1 or July 4). But as a general principle I think that holding the flag  up as some sacred garment is idolatry.

Where did I come by this position? I get it from my father. He fought during World War Two. His boyhood friend died in his arms on the beach during the invasion of Europe. My father suffered shrapnel wounds and was hospitalized for several months. Then he returned to Europe as a medic. He saw a lot of horrible things.

When he returned to Canada after the war he couldn’t get out of his uniform fast enough. My mother told me that when they went to movies he refused to stand up for the national anthem (God Save Our Queen). My father was such a gentle man that it was hard to imagine why he was so angry on this one point. He laughed at war movies. He said that John Wayne was a joke. All of it was just show business. The real thing… he almost never talked about.

It wasn’t just the enemy. My father said he saw German prisoners taken behind tanks and shot. The brutality was everywhere. There were no heroes. Just survivors. My father would never join the Canadian Legion. He did not want to listen to guys boasting about things they had never gone through. There are horrible things done in the name of nations, flags, family, religion. It should give us pause.

6 Responses to “I get it from my father”

  1. karmami said

    Still I sm far more comfortable with commiting idolatry by holding a flag as a sign of pride than say following and or paying to see concerts and being star strucked ..by any of the so call actors celebrities of Hollywood or elsewherw….lol

    • In many countries flags become like sacred relics. They are worshiped for themselves. They become a substitute for an ethical code. I remember that scene for Cabaret where the blond young man starts singing ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’.

      • karmami said

        In western countries celebrities are worshiped and they have become the models of society..everything goes..and it is ok. Rather worship a harmest flag as the other option is anything but harmeless….

      • I need to say something else. Yes, this song, this video clip exactly captures the misguided patriotism. This is actually my favorite song and I have it on my player and play it a lot. It’s a great and uplifting song but in this case shows false national optimism that’s based on the wrong values.

        The thing that many people may not understand is “Could national pride really just be national vanity?”

        Anyway, Thanks again.

  2. I understand what you are saying and I agree. Why is the flag more sacred than human life? Why does the military have an absolute hold on the word “Honor?”

    I looked at things differently most of my life and couldn’t really understand what many others were doing. I found part of the answer in a report about “moral theory.” It’s presented in a slightly political positional view but the underlying ideas point out my difference with others(a liberal outlook).

    http://cbdr.cmu.edu/seminar/haidt.pdf

    Another viewpoint was expressed in the idea of moral force multipliers. From birth onwards we are frequently molded, shaped, directed and ordered to meld into the social fabric.These are force multipliers. Even as your title suggests, “I get it from my father”, we usually follow our upbringing. But….in this case I believe that your father was right and he took a stand. He wouldn’t support a position of glorious war or institutions that promoted war. Actually your father had real courage. Not the kind that is canned or manufactured. He lived to a greater understanding or calling and it sounds like he called things as they were. Here is a site that explains force multipliers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_multiplication

    I’ve yet to find a website or explanation that explains the force multipliers from a completely moral position but have contemplated writing one myself because I realize more acutely then ever how many of our decision are not even ours. They were incorporated unto us. Thanks. Sorry it was so long but this post was like a tall glass of water in the desert.

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