Today, I published a new episode of my poetry podcast, specifically a reading from my poem “A Continuance of the Dream”. It’s a bit timely, considering the general election is tomorrow.
I don’t know if any poem is ever done (or an art for that matter), but this one is pretty close. I’m been writing it off and on for a few years. Even after posting it to my poetry blog (a little over two years ago) I continued to do a sizeable number of rewrites. Today I decided to actually do a reading of it for my podcast. Somehow this seems more final than posting it, largely because editing the text is a lot easier to recording the whole thing.
The reason I originally started writing this particular poem was as a response to statements like “America is the greatest country on Earth” and “Proud to be American”. On the surface, these are just statements demonstrating patriotism / love of country / etc. At least, that’s what a lot people will say when asked why they think and feel these things. To me though they tend to gloss over the complicated relationship many of have with this country we call home. I don’t believe we’re the greatest country on earth and I’m not always proud to be an American. As contradictory as it may seem, I can honestly say, that I love this country.
I think it’s incredibly important to not become so concerned with showing your patriotism that you become complicit in the destruction of the ideals you claim your country stands for. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance, these are all ideals America, as a country, claims to oppose. They are also very much a part of the American reality. To me, the idea that protesting can be considered to be unpatriotic is ridiculous. It is exactly because of how much I love my country that I’m willing to stand up against it when it’s wrong.
All this say, tomorrow you should vote. In the next election, you should vote. In every election, you should vote, because your voice matters and when your government is not doing what is right, you should show your patriotism by telling them they’re wrong. And if there comes a time when the people you voted for do not represent the America we dream of, you not only have the right to dissent, it is in fact your responsibility to do so.