Independence Day

Independence Day, the Fourth of July, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and a day on which the United States generally comes together to celebrate one of the most significant milestones in the formation of this country with patriotic displays. Particularly the fireworks. All joking aside, though, on this particular Independence Day, the 236th of its kind, I'd like to take a moment to think about what that patriotism actually is.

I've said more than once that I consider myself to be a patriot. And I have no problem saying that to others as part of my introduction, perhaps even part of how I define myself. I am proud to be a citizen of the United States, and I want to see the United States and its people thrive. I believe that there are concepts that are fundamentally part of the United States and its worldview: ideals like those of liberty, justice, freedom and equality for all. These are words and ideas - love for one's country and love for its ideals - that are part of how I understand patriotism and are more often than not part of the discussion on days like today.

I would be remiss, however, to rest on those words, just as I would be unwise to trumpet my perhaps unwarranted pride. The word "patriotism", like any other label in the English language, means all sorts of things to all sorts of people, and I would be greatly mistaken to assume that it is a positive label for anyone that might read this. It is a word that celebrates adherence to a country that has made its fair share of mistakes - and that could be said whether the country in question is the United States or not!

Most dangerously, it is a word that even for me calls up the words "my country, right or wrong." It can be a shield behind which all manner of chaos and destruction hides, all in the name of those ideals I mentioned above. As I call myself a patriot - a standard-bearer for the United States, its pride and its ideals - I too must acknowledge the mistakes we have made and continue to make in the name of that pride. It is those words, though, which offer me an answer as well - allow me to finish the quote. Courtesy of Carl Schurz, a Union Army general in the Civil War and later U.S. Senator, from on the floor of the Senate in 1872: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."

To those in the United States and those outside it; to all who celebrate this day whether they be U.S. citizens or not; to the people who look up to the standard set by our ideals and the people who criticize the ways in which we fail to live up to them... happy Independence Day. As we look back and celebrate the anniversary of that step on the road to the founding of our nation, allow me to renew my own vow of patriotism to my country.

There are many things the United States gets right, and I will take pride in what we have accomplished. To me, this is part of being a patriot, and so today I celebrate my home country and its Independence Day. Importantly, though, it is not the only part. It is also my duty as a patriot to take the mistakes that the United States has made and make them right again. Accordingly, I will take this day and remind myself that I cannot rest on that pride alone, not until the day comes that my ideals are reality, not until the United States and its people truly enjoy the things we have been promised: our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; our ideal of freedom and justice for all.


Status Report, Going Forward

Okay, so I lied. As it turns out, I didn't manage to get any blogging done about my most recent vacation. I seem to be pretty good at failing to realize my own limitations when it comes to blogging. It's a little late for spring cleaning, but I might as well get around to the blogging version of that now.

Part of that was the Internet situation where I went. I'll confirm that now, for the people who don't know me well enough to have already guessed: yes, I went to Japan. I have since returned from Japan, sadly enough. For the moment, I'm not going into great detail about that trip. There will be at least one post, and more likely several, in the near future in which I'll look back in more detail. The hotel didn't have wireless Internet, and I was sharing a room with my brother for most of the trip, in which I let him monopolize the single available wired Internet connection. It's not much of an excuse, but...

Well, I also came down with a cold. Tokyo's 2 for 3 on me being sick while being in that city, so yeah. At least, I say it was just a cold, but it was bad enough that I didn't feel like doing anything that wasn't lying down and sleeping for a while. It probably would have gone better if I hadn't ran out of cold medicine halfway through the ordeal. I really should have just gone and bought more.

Anyway, enough about my personal tribulations over the last two weeks. As long as I'm posting one of the few things I've felt deserved a "notifications" tag, and as long as I'm talking about why I haven't been posting all that much over the last few days weeks (practically), I might as well take a moment and say what I expect to happen here on my blog going forward.

If nothing else, "tomorrow" (he said, posting just before midnight) is a day of particular significance for people in the United States of America, and I'll probably have something to say about that. Other than that, my primary motivations seem to be losing some of their interest as of late. Looking at my tags and the number of posts each one has, while I do post some things about anime or gaming, the majority of posts express my personal opinions (which is what I seem to use the "personal" tag for, although perhaps a rethinking of that is in order) regarding either politics or feminist/progressive issues.

I'll still do that, although I've kind of missed the chance for punditry on the recent Supreme Court decisions. Not the only thing to talk about, but one of the biggest recent events in political news - and, to some extent, in progressive news as well. However, I did just get back from Japan, and as I said I plan to say a few things about that trip. Plus, I came back with all sorts of fun things which can be translated, discussed, what have you. So I'd kind of like to have a few more things of that nature happening here.

In specific, there's one particular project I can think of that pretty much throws in all of these elements. When talking about PAX East earlier, I used a visual novel called Kanon as an example of a problematic game, although only in passing as something that could use further analysis. Well, thanks mostly to my brother's generosity, I have in my possession a copy of the Japanese light novel following one of the five storylines tied up in the game; essentially the novel version of part of the game itself. What I'd like to do with that is read it and liveblog it, examining the story from a feminist perspective and translating some of the important scenes.

That's my project for the near future - the book has six chapters, and if I get through one a week, call it a month and a half. (It'll probably take longer than that, but given that I already sort of know the story's general outline, I might as well set the bar high.) And as I've already implied, I expect there to be other things along for the ride, whether I keep translating songs, add some games to that backlog, finish some of my fanfiction works, chat about developments in the political sphere... and ideally, somewhere along the line, I find myself some form of gainful employment, now that I've just graduated from college and all.

To what regular readers I have (and I'm pretty sure that's "not too many"), thank you for still checking my blog in light of my frankly pathetic update schedule. For people new to the blog (and the majority of those are courtesy of either Shakesville or the timeline of the entire Penny Arcade debacle), I hope you stick around, and I welcome any (constructive) comments you all have to make.

And to one and all, thank you for taking any time at all out of your day to bother with anything I have to say here. I really do appreciate it, and I'm going to try and do better about putting things up here that are worth your time and attention.