01 February 2006


Jimmy's was doing a good business for a Wednesday night. The Valentine's Day decorations were up, and Mom's Burgundy was slowly improving her testy demeanor.

Religion, nature/nurture, belief in God took the conversational center stage. My parents and I had all read or seen something recently that claimed a person's belief in God is a matter of genetics. There are a lot of circumstances that could explain, like a person brought up with religion who later decides she doesn't believe in God: it might be nature overcoming nurture.

A while later Dad commented, "It takes a lot of guts. Not many people are willing to openly say they don't believe in God these days."

It made me think of another article I'd read that made atheism seem desirable in comparison. Mom had read us a different humorous editorial by the same author a few weeks before, so it seemed a logical segue.
Joel Stein doesn't support the troops. It's an opinion I understand. How can a person who doesn't support the war, support its troops? (For those of you who do support the war, this isn't directed at you. Of course, you should support them.) Some people use the decision-making tree argument. Soldiers just follow orders. What about soldiers who agree with Bush on the war? If you don't support Bush's choices, it's illogical to support the people who agree with him. That leaves soldiers who disagree, but do what they're told because they have no choice. Ok, you can support them.

But what is your support really besides some armor against being labeled 'unpatriotic'? How is your support actually felt by our troops? If you have no tangible answer, think about why you say you support them.

"What about Vietnam?" someone yells from the back. Personally, I don't think anyone should spit on another person under any circumstances. I have respect and compassion for our men and women in uniform, but I also have strong concerns about how and where their talents and abilities are put to use. Blindly supporting them feels like tacit approval of the war to me.
All this came to mind, and yet...

There was a guy sitting in the booth right behind me. His dinner companion had just left the table, so there was no conversation of his own to distract him from ours.

Behind my parents was a large bow on a flower pot. The bow was made of several ribbons of different colors: some striped, some solid, but unmistakably red, white, and blue.

This was not the place to bring it up, I felt. However, censoring myself for fear of others' reactions should they choose to eavesdrop and then yell at me pissed me off. The fear to speak just felt so unpatriotic. That's not the type of America I want to live in.

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  1. This is why I would enjoy living in America - I get a perverse pleasure out of offending people.

  2. You can't do that where you are? Oh wait, let me guess: you've got less high-profile political stuff to be offensive about.


    Thanks for the note.

  3. I'm offensive in a funny way, I hasten to add. Although I do often get told off in the Students' Union...

    You wouldn't enjoy coming to the UK and telling us all we're mere poodles?

  4. Being vastly outnumbered in the UK, I think I would take a more diplomatic approach. ;] Actually, I would just love to visit some day as -no doubt- some bloody American tourist.

    And it's really not my aim to offend, just to express an opinion that doesn't get heard much.