It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baseball and the National Anthem

Last night I attended a baseball game at AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks. A local band (I don’t remember who it was) had the honor of lining up behind second base before the start of the game and playing the national anthem.

Standing with the crowd, I felt moved. I even felt moved that I felt moved – to stand in reverence, to take off my hat, and, as the music progressed, even to sing along. First mouthing the words silently, then voicing them quietly, then closing my eyes and belting them out. (Not too badly, either, I must admit.) I noticed that, as the music played on, more and more people around me and around the stadium were joining in.

And it felt good. Yet, even as I was singing, I wondered why it felt good. Was it being in community? Was it patriotism? Was it that, for that one moment, all political, economic, religious, and social differences, conflicts, and animosities melted away and we experienced the one that we truly are?

There’s so much wrong with this country. As a “left-leaning, bleeding-heart liberal,” I could cite a laundry list of what’s not right with the United States. (Actually, “right-leaning, heartless conservatives” no doubt have a laundry list of their own.) And I know that there are those of my ilk who scoff at the notion of patriotism and are cynical about the good intentions that our country professes as it proceeds to do what they regard as evil. After all, I am often one of them.

So, why take my hat off, stand in reverence, and feel good about singing the national anthem? Even to … dare I admit it?? … feel patriotic?

Upon reflection, I realize that it is not a reverence and patriotism for the United States as it acts in the world, or as it is in the world. It’s not a reverence for incessant wars, obsessions about national security, and insistence that we are number one and the best in the world in everything. I’d settle for the United States being and doing good. We don’t have to be best. Every country, every person, has something wonderful to offer for the good of all. Why do we have to make comparisons and rankings to know who’s best? Does everything have to be a competition?

Rather, I feel reverence for what we could be, for how we could act. I buy into – perhaps naively, but I don’t care – the national values that we profess, not those we actually express. I feel reverence for baseball; for standing in community singing the national anthem and root, root, rooting for the home team; for kids’ sports and their parents who volunteer so much time and energy to organize and coach teams and leagues and tournaments; for marathon runners and spectators who rush towards an explosion to give aid and comfort to the injured; for the outpouring of support from people all across the country to give aid and comfort to a tiny town devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion or another wiped away by a tornado or hurricane; for communities coming together to shovel sand into bags and pile them alongside flooding rivers.

That’s the America for which, and for the promise of which, I stand, take off my hat, and sing the national anthem.

No comments:

Post a Comment