Archive for November 13th, 2022

March of Progress

GC Myers Studio Wall 2022

The fact that we’ve been a great democracy doesn’t mean we will automatically keep being one if we keep waving the flag.

–Norman Mailer, Why Are We at War?

Mailer’s words ring true for me, especially in light of the election currently winding down. Democracy is not a static concept, not an endpoint. It is a progressive march forward, one that seeks to constantly adjust and correct the injustices and inequalities of a nation’s past so that the benefits and opportunities afforded that nation are extended to all its citizens.

It is a slow march, one comprised of sometimes small, barely perceptible incremental steps forward.

Stopping at any one point in that forward progress– or worse yet, regressing to a point in its past– is the antithesis of democracy. When one of the major parties takes the stance that it wants to halt this progress and tries to reach its goal by instilling fear and anger and unquestioning obedience in its followers, it becomes something far different at that point. Something that seeks to limit justice, equality and opportunity to the few rather than the many.

Something that is decidedly undemocratic.

No amount of nationalistic flag waving or sloganeering can change that.

I have my dad’s burial flag from the VA on a stone shelf in my studio. It certainly doesn’t make me a patriot. But it reminds me that I am no less a patriot than someone who makes a show of waving the flag while rallying behind would-be dictators who seek to divert the march of progress.

I suppose my definition of a patriot is someone who continues to seek a form of democracy that is ever more inclusive and fairer to everyone. It may never come to be, but so long there are those patriots with an unblinking eye to that future and the will to defend democracy, the march of progress will continue.

This past week has proven that. But the efforts of antidemocratic forces will go on and it will be a constant struggle. Let’s hope those patriots among us stay focused and engaged. Let us all be patriots.

That brings us to this week’s Sunday Morning Music. I am featuring a song, I Am a Patriot, that I have played a couple of times here before. Written and originally performed by Little Steven in the 1980’s. It originally had a reggae beat and sound but today’s version here is a bit different. Eddie Vedder, with Pearl Jam and solo, has performed this song countless times over the past twenty+ years and he is constantly interpreting it in different ways. I particularly like this version from back in 2003.

It seems to fit the moment.

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