Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Letter to America #1

Letter to America #1

Dear America,

Children file down the avenue absentmindedly waving their national pride
Their smiling faces stretch from east to west as they marvel at this
we have created

Their innocence is unblemished by the blood running in the streets of Kabul
Their happiness undisturbed by the cries of their freshly orphaned brothers
They do not know because we do not tell them
We do not speak because we are afraid
Afraid that we too will be labeled terrorists

And the dream we have slaved for
for years
will fall from our feet

I watched a Memorial Day parade today. Bright shiny fire engines slowly rolled by, reminding me of tornados and earthquakes. A drumline led the charade, keeping the pace steady. They looked like old time revolutionaries proud to march into battle, assured of the justice of their cause. Sharp notes rang out on the city air like gunshots. One after another: intimidating and mowing down all who would oppose. It frightened me to think of my country this way. It was like having a drunk father peering over his shoulder at you. He knew what you were up to. You just prayed he was too fucked up to notice. And just as I felt most like a helpless infant, my reflection stared at me from the face of a child in the throng. It was like looking back in time. Once upon a time I simply absorbed all the pretty colors and smiling faces at these things. In pre-logical bliss I would fly on the wings of the dream of what was America. Now I look at this parade of ignorance from the sidelines. When I was a child I thought like a child, acted like a child, and was ignorant like a child. Now I am a man. I think like a man, act like a man, and finally know like a man. I don’t fly flags anymore. I know that I am helpless in the face of my government. I am Jack without the benefit of a beanstalk. I am a lonely voice crying out in the desert “make straight the paths of progress: love, peace, joy, and happiness.” Yet still the flags fly. Our military industrial complex has festered into a disease yet we dress up our children in the garb of conquest: red, white, and blue. We adorn tyranny with the face of innocence and sell it at a discount rate. As long as flags fly and gods inspire America will march, in order, to the drum of greed.

I didn’t really watch the parade after that. I staggered home, grabbed a scotch, and poured it over my rebellious thoughts. I was scared. When did America become this whore? Have men always valued their fear over hope? They have told me over and over again that my neighbor is my enemy: that the color of his skin or the posture of his prayer is sufficient cause for death. Always draped in old glory and romanticized in hero worship. And here it was right outside my window on the painted faces of tomorrow. I cried. We have bought the lie. I don’t blame you. 99 cent security is an enticing offer. But you get what you pay for. You have traded your freedom for security and your soul for a big mac.

(Families are forced from their homes because malicious men gambled away their life savings. Meanwhile, rich men dominate Capitol Hill with a big green iron curtain. The corporation and the government have bonded themselves in a blood tie. The
harlot has wed the beast and the takeover is complete. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. You are a profitability factor. Your child’s health is a cost-benefit analysis. We live in the United Corporations of America.)

And so I think back to the parade. The fire trucks gleamed engine red as they slowly passed. The marines were in full dress reflecting American glory. And the children waved red, white, and blue as if to say “we’re the best!” We are the best. But we is they. Corporations and compromised governments have stolen old glory. We pledge our allegiance to the idea that greed can be used for good. And parade it around like it’s a blessing. You have been lied to America. We have traveled back to 1984 and we haven’t even noticed.

Sincerely Yours, Larry Swetman

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