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This land is my land, this land is your land, or is it?

Posted 1 January 2019, 11.54 pm by Grapey v2

This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land. Or is it?
Thoughts on nationalism and identity in an increasingly divided time.

Iíve been thinking about the national flag recently, and about what it means to people. I would presume that in most countries, there are a large amount of people who feel very nationalistic and patriotic, and those feelings include sentiment toward and about the national flag.

Here in the U.S., people definitely have very strong feelings about it. Well, some people.
I know the flag is a representation of ideals and some of what our country stands for, however at the end of the day, no matter what you do to that piece of cloth or what you say about it, our nation will still stand for the same things. Burning or otherwise destroying a flag doesn't destroy a country or the people, in the same way that burning a Quran or a Bible doesnít hurt the religion or physically harm the people who practice those religions. So why are people so crazy about the flag and how itís treated?

Some of my neighbors put flags out on national holidays. My father puts a flag out on national holidays. I'm not a person who would ever do that, be it fourth of July or any other holiday. It isn't that I don't like my country. It isn't that I don't appreciate the efforts of our women and men who have served in the military in situations that contribute to the safety of Americans. I just don't know what the point is.

If I hated my country, I could technically leave it and live somewhere else, so it would seem that, if I'm here, I like my country, just like other people like the country, and why do we need to fly flags to show that? For some people, it seems to be a badge of honor, a symbol of pride. ďI love my country and Iím not afraid to show it to one and all,Ē or, ďI must love my country more than you and be more patriotic than you since Iím displaying the flag of my country.Ē

I saw a short video recently, starring a wrestler/movie actor, talking about patriotism, and about what type of person is considered to be the average representative of this country. And I knew right away where the video was going to go. It assumes, and probably rightly, that the majority of people trying to picture the average American picture a white male. However, 51% of the people in the US are women. The video went on to list the statistics of several different minorities. According to one survey, America is 73.6% white, 12.6% black, and a much lower percentage of Asian, Native American, or other races. One of the things I loved about this video was its point that we are all American; every color, every religion, every sexual orientation. All of us. And that to be a real patriot, we need to recognize all of these people. We are not only American if we are white, Catholic, heterosexual, or work full time.

These sentiments align closely with my desire for writing and what I want to do with my writing, which is to bring people together to show them their commonalities instead of their differences. To help people communicate. To help people get past skin color or country of birth or religious practice. How great would it be if people used the differences of others as a way to learn about, appreciate, and celebrate other cultures instead of a way to keep people who were different to them or seemed ďotherĒ at a distance?

As much as I like my country, I easily recognize some of its faults as well. No country is perfect. There are currently 195 countries in this world. Not a single one of them is perfect. The US not being perfect doesn't mean I want to leave or that I should be booted out, labeled a dissident or non-conformist. However, I see the failures, and from what I can tell, they are getting worse, not better.

There is calamity upon calamity with our current administration. The amount of atrocities being committed by this government is so constant that weíre becoming numb to them. Itís simply unbelievable. As patriotic as everyone claims to be, they seem to be yelling it so loud as to have drowned out the cries of the earth, the very earth that we need to survive, that we are so patriotic about, and it is very much to our own detriment.

The piece of earth where I live is really the same as the earth anywhere else on this planet, just at a different location. Dirt, although it can have slightly different ingredients depending on where it is, is dirt. There might be a different culture, a different language, different foods depending on what piece of dirt youíre living on, but there are things that will be the same as well.

What will be the same are our needs, our desires. We all want, among other things, love, inclusiveness, family, comfort, fresh water and enough food, warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. The freedom to educate ourselves and provide for ourselves and families. Safety from the harm of oppressors, be they individuals, corporations, or governments.

Why can't we see that a flag or a border does nothing to help us with these needs? The more people entrench themselves in their nationalism and patriotism, the more they keep us from coming together, from cooperation, from sharing, from understanding, from loving and accepting one another. Keeping to these ideals and the us vs. them mentality keeps us from helping one another achieve a good standard of living for all, instead of just for a lucky privileged few.

What would happen if every country in the world got rid of their flag? What if they were outlawed? What if we slowly started erasing all the borders? Could we have one large multi-faceted organization with good oversight that helped run the world so to speak, without the need for presidents and kings? What would a world like that look like? Imagine if everyone had enough food, clean water, employment, and felt safe? Thatís what I call freedom. Thatís a land I would be proud to live in.


Alexander
on 1 January 2019, 11.56 pm
This is a great piece, thank you Grapey.

It's funny, in the UK, the flag has become almost a symbol of the far-right, which is a real shame. It's like patriotism and racism/xenophobia have become intertwined. I can't say I'm particularly patriotic myself, although I do feel very grateful to have been born in a first world country with a National Health Service (for now).

What's key is that I don't feel like I've done anything to *earn* the benefits that come with living in Great Britain, so feeling proud about it seems a bit daft.


darkstrEam
on 2 January 2019, 9.55 pm
Like Alexander alludes to, in England if you see someone hang the national flag out of their window, most people would assume they were a racist - trying to assert their White British "Superiority" over whoever else might be passing by. It bothers me that a flag I'm supposed to feel some allegiance to is associated with hate and intolerance. That said, I find flags and their symbolic shorthand to be fairly fascinating. The flag of Mozambique is quite the statement, which amongst other meaningful elements includes an AK-47. Some might consider that a somewhat shocking inclusion, but as it features as a crossed formation with a hoe (or similar farming implement) it can be seen in the context of 'important tool' - one used for farming, one to fight for freedom, and nods to the heraldic precursors to modern flags. Perhaps with the march towards simplified symbols, the greater meaning of a national emblem can be more easily obscured, and blind patriotism is possibly one result of this. As tribes we both find unity and create division.


Alexander
on 2 January 2019, 10.08 pm
I can't wait until each country is just represented by an emoji.


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This piece was inspired by Andy Warhol's famous 'marilyn monroe' piece in which the same picture is used several times to create a pattern. If you look closely, you'll realise there's a lot going on here with the detailed background against the simple pixelated images create a convergence which I thought would be nice to experiment with. It was created in Photoshop and took me 5 hours to perfect.


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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

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