Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thoughts on Patriotism

I have always felt the deep irony in my life that I was raised in a Quaker church and then married a soldier in the army.  I am patriotic and feel a deep sense of thankfulness for our soldiers and their families who support them.  This morning I read a great column in the Baltimore Sun.  A soldier's wife shared her story of having her second child while her husband was deployed.  You can read it here.  I was reminded of the sense of loyalty I have for our country and also of a completely different subject--pregnancy and delivery.

I just finished perusing a book titled Jasmine and Fire by Salma Abdelnour.  The author and I don't see eye to eye on so many levels, but there were some things that I am told she portrays very accurately in her book.  One particular topic she mentions is patriotism.  She views it almost like religion.  I couldn't find the passage in her book to directly quote how she feels, but seemed to think that patriotism and loyalty to one's country is  somehow misdirected or wrong.  I can't quite put my finger on how to explain what she thinks, but she definitely doesn't seem to value patriotism.  

As I said, I don't see eye to eye with her.  I cried when I read the soldier's wife's story.  It took me back to the days when the war first began and I was sick on the couch with our first child while my husband was in Iraq.  Whenever I read or hear of a family being reunited after a deployment, I cry.  It's impossible for me not to.  I am thankful for their reunion.  They have all sacrificed--why?  For us.  For this country we live in.  For the world we live in--because we can't be so self-centered as a nation.  I read this morning about the massacres that occurred in Sabra and Shatila in 1982. Every middle easterner knows of these events in Lebanon? But, do we as westerners?  I don't think many of us do.  We need to care.  For our own country and for others.  

One of the books that made me see outside myself was Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker.  If you haven't read it, I would encourage you to.  I made me realize how unconsciously I had adoped an Americentric view of the world.  This book helped me change that about my thinking.  

I have realized that I deeply desire to raise my children appreciating where they live and valuing the freedom they have and the people who fight to protect that freedom.  

The second subject is pregnancy and labor and delivery.  We all have expectations about life.  So many of them if we're honest with ourselves.  As I near 40 years old and reflect on pregnancy and the deliveries of my children, I am struck by one statement.  Life is not the way we expect it to be.  I have come to trust this and even expect life to not be exactly the way I hope it will be.  I have found that most of my friends share this in common with me about pregnancy and delivery--we expect it to turn out one way, but there are usually some twists and turns in the path.  Once in a rare instance, I will meet a woman whose labor turns out the way she planned it.  But, she is the exception rather than the rule.  I have had friends share with me the deep guilt and grief they've had when their labors have not turned out as they hoped or felt they should.  What I've said to them is that it isn't how they arrive that matters the most, but that they have arrived.  It's a little like the saying that the wedding day is a day--a special one, but it is the marriage that lasts that matters more.  

So, these are the two things that struck me as I read the article and simply wanted to put down in words here this morning while I'm home waiting for my sciatic nerve to get better and my son to get over hand-foot-mouth (thankfully a very mild case).  Life is usually not the way we expect it to be.  But, it is okay.  It is all in God's hands and I trust Him to know what is better for me than I know myself.

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