< I don’t know if I would regard myself as a genuine patriot or not. I am not a moral relativist who thinks, for example, that Sharia law is just as cogent as the Bill of Rights. Yet I also refrain from pledging allegiance to everything except God, the Good (understood in the Platonic sense), loved ones, and myself. As such, I cannot overlook the self-evident evil that the US has committed in the past and present (and most certainly, the future).
Nonetheless, it bothers me that the (manifest) Powers That Be are so quick to lower the flag to half-staff at the most relatively minor mishap. It seems to me as if it’s at half-staff almost as frequently as it is atop the pole. Five kids die in a bus crash? Well, gotta’ lower Old Glory. Biden’s got the sniffles? Clearly a national tragedy that calls for the flag to be lowered.
And so now the flag has been lowered to half-staff for Nelson Mandela’s death. Provided one is able to overlook the terroristic activities of his ANC, one could say that Mandela was a great man (as far as men go). Yet he lived to be 95, against great obstacles, a lifespan in which he accomplished many things. Most importantly for this topic, he was not a US citizen. All in all, his death was hardly a tragic event. And the flag looked just fine where it was at at full-staff.
Is this the new normal, where we collectively resign ourselves to life being a pissy bitch more than a delight? Why don’t we just keep it at half-staff all the time as an acknowledgement that life just sucks? We could just drop it on the ground when something really shitty happens, or elevate it to its erstwhile proper position when cancer or AIDS is cured. If world peace is declared, we’ll raise it five feet above the pole’s top.
The current mentality is redolent for me of a friend from several years back. Ostensibly a born-again Christian, he was nonetheless a very moribund guy. Once, his response to my query, “How’s it going?” was “Well, I didn’t kill myself today, so I guess okay.”
My friend was about 15 years older than me, but I really wanted to tell him to “grow the fuck up. Yes, it sucks your wife left you, and that led you to your 18th nervous breakdown and all. But get over it, man. Move on, brother.”
Our collective mindset needs the same Stoicism that I unsuccessfully tried to impart to my friend. In my cosmology, there is no such thing as tragedy. Yet even if there was, its threshold is certainly higher than the deaths of a few. I don’t know if an algorithm could be created to distinguish the seriously bad shit from the regular travails that regularly afflict life. I do know that it does not require too much discernment to differentiate between tsunami-level calamities and the deaths of old men.
I broke protocol with this post by being too serious. It wasn’t funny, but this germane clip sure is:
I hope you whistle along.