Sweeping the Nation!****
Reading (and writing a stupid comment) over at my friend's blog (and the fact that I have a paper due soon and don't feel like writing it) have prompted me to come out of hiding. Two blog posts in a months time, can you stand it??
I guess I'm technically an ex-pat. I never liked that word, because "expatriate" sounds like an "ex-patriot," which would make me a former patriot, which is not the case. I like to think that I'm still a patriot, even though that word has until recently (yesterday) had negative connotations. Many folks would have you believe that while Bush was in office, you were supposed to be ashamed of the US of A. Being an expat, and apparently a representative of the US and therefore accountable for all of Bush's policies, I have been called to the carpet many times by the locals for everything from the GWoT to subprime lending. Yes, all Japanese people are aware of subprime lending. All I can do is shrug and tell them that the situation is more complicated than the news reports, and that I lack the language facilities to explain it. This is somewhat true -- I can express what I understand, which isn't much, but it's much easier to feign ignorance because I really don't feel like engaging in such conversations. The same goes with the concept of patriotism and love for one's country. Patriotism and nationalism is strange to Japanese people, as it was illegal until 2006 to teach it in schools.
Anyway, I like to think of patriotism in simpler terms. It's like your family. They might piss you off, but they're still family. You still love them, and even if they really fuckup, it's not cool for people outside of your family to talk shit about it and it's OK to get irritated about it. Something like that.
Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be about patriotism -- my point is that to me, real patriotism isn't something that changes depending on who's in office. It shouldn't ebb and flow like the tide, and it shouldn't explode because of a terrorist attack or some other tragedy. It's shouldn't be a fad and it shouldn't be bandwagonable (new word).
Living in Japan, I'm no stranger to bandwagoning. Japanese culture is probably more susceptible to bandwagoning and "group think" than other places due to how children are socialized, and I always think about how much fun and easy it must be to be a marketing executive here. I sometimes think they have a contest to see how insulting and brazen they can be, but it never fails -- they sell products and the absurdity of each "boom" is trumped by every successive "boom". I guess I never thought the USA was really so susceptible, but bandwagoning seems to have morphed into something interesting. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the:
Bandwagon of Free Thought
Its genius lies in its irony. Who would have thought? Now, bandwagoning on political issues is one thing -- it's sort've like the love for a sports team (which I also have trouble wrapping my mind around). Usually it's a side or a team or a movement, but free thought? Disagree? You're an automaton. You're a neocon. You're a fascist. But you're certainly not a free thinker unless you're on board. It appears that atheism is en vogue these days too, which based on some stuff I've been reading, is a little disturbing due to fervor with which people are not believing in God. Irony. And everyone knows I've been an atheist forever*.
Watching the festivities on TV is like getting kicked in the jaw by irony over and over, as I see people putting so much "hope" in a man who has so little experience. Granted, he is an amazing orator. He inspires. He could very well turn this country in a new direction, but I'm sure most people don't really know how. They just believe he will. Believe, my friends. It's not a matter of hope, it's a matter of faith, because faith and hope are directly at odds with each other**. Faith is stronger than hope, because people with faith know without knowing that something is so. Ya dig? Historically, faith is the stuff of bandwagoning, while hope can lead to ostracism.
So yeah, I'm hopeful. I hope for increased social welfare reform. I hope for a more liberal form of democracy. I hope for world peace. I hope for anthropomorphic garden shears dancing in butterscotch waterfalls***. But faith is never something I've been particularly good at, for which I am eternally
* - level 6
** - I got that line from Tom Robbins' "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates"
*** - Free beer to whoever can get that reference -- no googling! (You won't find it on google anyway ;) )
**** - This post is convoluted and pretty much sucks