Today I want to take a moment to remember what our lives were like, a moment to think about what they are like, moments to imagine what they could be.
As I drove to work this morning I saw Poplar getting ready for it’s big Memorial Day Parade and I felt that familiar sense of escape, or duck-and-cover when the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, or days like this come around.
I want to acknowledge the enormous and ultimate sacrifices made by many in the good faith of freedom. But I want to hide from what I experience the reality of that freedom to be. I want to acknowledge that perhaps all this time we have been fighting for something else, for someone(s) other than the us and our honorable ideals. I want to acknowledge that sometimes, under the guise of something beautiful, hides something rotten. That perhaps it is not a foundation of freedom that secures The United States of America, but a core of selfishness under a facade of marketing.
It is currently true that our history, battled and bloodied, repeats itself. You can walk around the cemetery, talk to your relatives, or just read cross-generationally. But it is not true that it has to in the same stained ways. Cycles, however stable, can be interrupted. So then under my duck-and-cover I am left questioning, why and how? Why do we continue to fight these endless wars, to sacrifice our sons and daughters for ideals that seem ever distant? What is the outcome to all this input of idealism, of sweat, blood, and commitment? How can our means more closely match our ends?
What if our Nation’s short history repeats itself because we’re really fighting for something other than freedom? What if it’s because we fight for the financial stability of a shrinking number of elites? And what if their stability comes at the cost of our freedom? I am left wondering what these elites are doing today. I know they are most likely not honoring their fallen family members, and I find that telling.
It is a privilege not to serve this country. It is a privilege to take advantage of it, and it’s people. I hope I live to see a Memorial Day where privilege is not a precondition to freedom. I hope I live to see a Memorial Day where selfishness is not the stepping stone to success, and elected office is not the profitable shield worn to insulate oneself from the tragedy of others.
Today, and tomorrow, as I sit at work and earnestly put in my hours towards equitable education as a tool for freedom I pray our minds will be opened. I pray I am not alone in my feelings of uncertainty surrounding our country’s fictitious foundations, our fundamentalism, our nationalism. I pray, without a clear notion of who I am speaking to, but a certain knowing that in dire times it is all one is left to do. I pray for those who have lost everything in the fallen lives of their family and friends. I pray for those who have given the most they could to our insatiable country. Finally I pray for the ones who have no one to remember and to honor today. I pray that someday they can feel honest honor for themselves.
Idealism is a beautiful tool, and a dangerous weapon. As I look backwards and forwards I hope one day we are equally as diligent about education as we are currently about death and destruction. Because without a foundation of deeply critical education our idealism rules over us, is manipulating us, and is killing us. We are not free, regardless of how many have laid down their lives for that ideal, but that doesn’t mean that one day we can’t be.