My post on flag poles over at Garden Rant sure infuriated some folks. Here's the link.
Let me make it brutally clear that I was not attacking the American flag--I didn't even say I was. I was not attacking the memory of anyone's father, or anyone's service in the military. I don't know any of those who commented saying I was doing that, so how could I attack them? I honor the military men and women, the firefighters, the national guard, no matter what conflict our nation sends them to.
Today is the anniversary of 9/11, but it is not the anniversary of a religion or a culture attacking another. The overly-covered media orgy of that small-town pastor in Florida set to burn another religion's holiest book is a sensationlistic dumbing down of our greatest fears and the ignorance of too many people. Islam did not attack this country, radicals who have a twisted sense of Islam did. That's how the crusades started, that's how much of our country was founded and where much of western history comes from--rich white "Christian" guys (straight or gay) trying to preserve personal gain at the expense of other races, women, and cultures. They twisted religion, too.
Someone pointed out that American flags are mostly made overseas. Irony? Justice?
It's important to remember what the American flag stands for, if we are to make this an argument about the flag vs. about the landscaping (I was making the latter for pete's sake). America is a special place to live in, unique in the history of the world, and thank whatever god you believe in (we can still do so) that our best moments come from periods of polarization and freedom of speech.
At the same time, this country was founded on mass genocide--human and ecological, which continues to this second. This is not unique to our species across the planet, but the ability to reverse these effects politically, spiritually, fairly, and without bloodshed is firmly within this unique country's grasp. We occupy an incredible moment in history with great responsibility put upon our blip of a nation, and are wasting it glorifying ourselves through Wal Mart or turning our backs on even our own families and environments, let alone those across the world. (And how quickly we've forgotten the Gulf oil spill, where a layer of oil has been discovered on the sea floor, not dispersed by chemicals whose effects we also don't know. This spill is the environment's 9/11, and in turn will eventually be another one for us.)
I apologize for having an opinion in my Garden Rant post, and trying to do so somewhat sarcastically or light-heartedly. Humor doesn't travel well in writing most of the time. I apologize for exercising my American rights that several of those who commented on the post are wishing I didn't have. C'est la vie, but at least it's a life we have and can give to others when our federal government doesn't think about its own preservation (unlikely to happen), but the preservation of the human spirit and a nation's collective will or hope for a better life.
Let's see some plantings in neighborhoods that go beyond a few basic orange daylilies and river rock piled against the base of a flag pole. Let's see restoration of native species we plowed up and now call weeds. Let's restore the native ecosystems as best we can in the islands of our yards--it's the very, very least we can do. If that means a flag pole in a praire yard then by god let's do it! I'll raise whatever flag you have myself!
But we should have more than just lawn going up to our walls, as is the case in most homes in my neighborhood, or foreign species of blah plants like boxwood or barberry that have no ecological benefit at all. If we can't help each other, let's at least help the planet--yet the two are directly connected, the health of the planet is the mental and spiritual health of our own species. Just ask Michael Pollan, Rachel Carson, Richard Louv, Doug Tallamy, Terry Tempest Williams, or Wendell Berry. When I see bees pollinating flags, or flickers nesting on flag poles, I will take it all back.