Why I Am Not a Patriot
By Jacob Clark
In America, especially during an election year, there is major pressure to be patriotic. The loudest and most bellicose patriotic noise tends to come from the right, but the left makes every effort to proclaim itself patriotic, as well. The left may not love Old Glory as much as the right, if conservative criticism of the lack of American flags at the DNC is to be believed (it’s not), but both sides happily and heartily exclaim American exceptionalism. I find it all rather silly. Even though it is anathema to the broader American psyche to say so, I do not believe in patriotism as an ideal, regardless of how it is defined or who extols it.
Kurt Vonnegut said it best in his novel Cat’s Cradle in his definition of a granfalloon: “a seeming team that was meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done,” and lists among his examples “any nation, anytime, anywhere.” Patriotism is merely one expression of granfalloonery, the false sense of intimacy and superiority inspired by a shared group identity that is ultimately inconsequential.
Yes, I do believe in and enjoy the freedom of speech, individual liberties, quality of life, and democratic system of government that I take for granted given my fortuitous birth within the territorial boundaries of the US. Do I necessarily feel overwhelming emotions of pride and self-sacrifice because of these benefits and principles? No. Do I feel a sense of camaraderie for my fellow Americans solely based on our happenstance mutual Americanism? Not really. Am I certain that America is the greatest country that has ever existed, currently exists, and will ever exist? Nope. Do I tear up while singing the national anthem at a sporting event or feel a swell of joy when I see the Stars and Stripes ripple in the wind? Nuh-uh.
I’m being tongue in cheek, but that’s all to say that patriotism is not something that I subscribe to and is not relevant in my daily life. It doesn’t bother me that other people are patriotic, obnoxious right-wingers aside. People are entitled to their granfalloons, whether they be American patriots, boa constrictor owners, Whole Foods shoppers, Yale alumni, or county jail parolees. What I take issue with is the social pressure to conform to the grand narrative of pride for country based solely on the uncontrollable circumstances of my birth.
(Adapted from a comment on The Guardian article ‘Helping your country do better’: what patriotism means in 2016)
Membership Opportunities for Agency on Aging Advisory Council
By Linda Descoteaux
The Fresno-Madera Area Agency on Aging is currently seeking Advisory Council members who represent the rich diversity of the area’s older adult population.
The Advisory Council plays an important role in the Agency on Aging’s planning process. Council members stay informed and provide input on issues that impact older residents in their communities, help gather information to identify the needs and priorities of older adults, conduct public hearings to obtain input on the agency’s four-year plan and annual updates, and serve as a key link between the Agency on Aging and the people they serve.
There are 21 seats on the Advisory Council, with Fresno County, Madera County, and Fresno city each represented by seven members. Members are appointed by the Agency on Aging’s Governing Board and serve three-year terms.
Information on joining the Agency on Aging Advisory Council and applications for membership will be available at the council’s next meeting on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Fresno-Madera Area Agency on Aging, located at 3837 North Clark Street in Fresno. Current openings are for residents of Madera County and Fresno County (outside of Fresno City limits). For additional information, please visit the Agency on Aging’s Web site at fmaaa.org, or call (559) 600-4405.