Sunday, 27 July 2008

Food For Thought: Allegiance/Patriotism vs. Criticism

Earlier this week I sent a message to inform someone of a new hire. The new hire, coming from another country, wrote his dates "backwards", just as a heads up, so that when the person came to get the badge, this person would know that dates given might be incorrect for the system. Such as a birthday written as 03-05-19XX is really 3 May 19XX. I threw in the side comment that really we are the ones doing the dates backwards... what dating system is month-day-year?

On my computer, I list all my dates as YYYY-MM-DD. That is the most sensible way of doing it. However, on paper, I write out my dates: 27 July 2008, because I hate MM-DD-YYYY. But if I write the date this coming Friday as 01/08/2008, everyone in this country will read it as January 8, 2008.

I am not sorry for feeling this way.

The recipient of the e-mail saw me a couple of days and harangued me on knocking this great country.

At first I was totally confused and had no clue what the problem was - two mintes after I've done something I have forgotten what it is and now you want me to recall one of a gazillion inconsequential e-mails communicating some tiny detail and then not explain the issue but just have a nice tidy mini-rant... This does not work this way - unless you don't want me to understand just what the frustration here really is.

The explanation became more clear after I asked a couple of questions, like, 'what the hell are you talking about?!' But the whole crux of this was who am I to criticise this country? We argued it in our biting sarcastic ways for a few minutes (and I know the bystander to this was chuckling the whole time) and finally I retorted, 'I vote here, and I am a citizen of this country and therefore I have the unmitigated right to complain or criticise!'

I support the Armed Forces. I used to be against them, years ago, when I was in my late teens and early 20s - I prefer the pacifistic approach to anything. But it is obvious that the human race is violent and we need our people who want to fight to protect the country; whatever their personal reasons for fighting, you can't blame them for going to other countries or areas that are inhospitable and fighting whoever needs to be fought to preserve my freedom - the freedom to bad-mouth the president or (rightly) point out that our dating system is faulty! But I will never hold anything against those fighting so that I may live.

I do all the basic tenets of living - paying taxes, (I actually really do pay my taxes just as they are), I do vote (which maybe I shouldn't do, being incredibly politically stupid but I feel strongly about 1. doing my civic duty and 2. voicing my opinion, however misguided it may be), and I'm a good citizen. I hate doing jury duty, but I do it when required. So why is it not okay for me to complain about the present incumbent if he is not doing the job to my satisfaction? I had a say in his being "hired", I said nay. He got in anyway, but I haven't given up my right to bemoan that or not agree with his policies.

Unless I'm mistaken, the person who gave me the hassel went overseas and fought for my right to speak my mind. This person went to keep the First Amendment in place and if that means I can speak in support of or not in support of the President, well, what's the problem?

Don't mess with my rights!

There was a time when I wanted to live overseas. This was many years ago, before I traveled and had penfriends all over the world. I'm very happy with the United States and the rights that I have and the ability to make my own life as I see fit. To believe and practice what I like, provided I do not do anything unlawful (well, okay. I do speed a little bit...); life here is good. It isn't perfect by any means, though, and if one just blindly follows another because he's the President, then how do you change things? People say that all the time - "how can I change that? I'm just one person." Yes, you are, but one becomes two, then a few, then some, then many - and changes do happen when there are many.

I am staggered how many follow others on blind faith. I find that disturbing.

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