By Tom H. Hastings
We are in another time of the superpatriot, the true believers in obedience to the Commander-in-Chief, to every armed agent of the state, and a zealotry that values the American flag above the lives of dissenters.
May I take this moment to declare myself a matriot?
I pledge my allegiance to Mother Earth and Her stunning, living diversity of creatures great and small, to her brilliant palette of skin tones and array of physical and mental abilities amongst one encompassing race, humankind.
I bow to the Earth flag, but I don’t value any cloth over any life.
The Fourth of July is a great time to reflect on our Interdependence, on our duty to our homeland, our home planet, and the generations to come.
The day is a time to respect protest and resistance, something done quite broadly in colonial America for approximately a decade leading to the Declaration.
It is a time for more of us to continue and extend the dissent begun by the colonists, and to also dissent from them.
So yes, to celebration, but no to valorizing guns and oppression.
Yes, to corn on the cob, but no to military parades.
Yes, to freedom, but no to oppression.
Yes, to democracy, but no to voter suppression.
Yes, to protection of life, but no to armed occupation of some neighborhoods by police who don’t live there.
Last night about 15 of us spent more than two hours planning for a youth-led July 4 rally and walk to support Black Lives (Also) Matter. There were pastors, police, parents, nonviolent peacekeepers, and high school kids.
At one point the deputy spoke up about the possible roles of law enforcement. He was clear, gentle, and respectful.
One of the pastors asked the youths to offer their ideas.
There were two African American girls, one Latinx girl, and one white girl. Each said, in her own way, that please, police, do not be there. We are afraid of police. We are trusting our nonviolent security team to keep us safe.
None of them were strident or speechifying, all were respectful, and one quiet-voiced African American girl was even apologetic, saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I am afraid when I see police.”
The deputy graciously thanked the girls for their honesty and said, “You are brave.”
This is a fraught moment in America. It is not time to double-down on flag-waving, dehumanizing, and dividing. If that is patriotism, I most emphatically reject patriotism.
I offer matriotism as my alternative. We can do this instead of some of the toxic nationalism we see.
We should be loyal, but loyal to all humans and loyal to the clean water, clean air, and healthy, safe environment every girl and boy requires now and forever. Our “Call to Duty” is to preservation and enhancement of the equity and ecological wonder that is their birthright.