The dad and his son were in the eternal living room enjoying another film marathon, this time alternating between Frank Capra and Michael Moore: first, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, next Fahrenheit 9/11, followed by Mr. Deed Goes to Town and Bowling for Columbine, and on and on until they had exhausted each filmmaker's entire canon.
The dad was teaching his son about America.
The son, who had actually once been an earthling but had had his mortal memory deleted by the dad for health purposes, looked puzzled as his teeth cracked through the last kernel of his EverWarm Celesta-PopCorn.
Still gazing at the now blank screen, he asked his dad, "When someone asks you to bless America, do you do it? Does your response depend on the suppliant, you know, are you more likely to bless America if a politician asks you to? More likely if the politician is Republican? Democrat? One of the smaller third parties who prevent Democrats from being elected?
"Why do politicians tend to end their speeches, which are typically sick with lies and twisted, equivocal rhetoric, with 'God bless America,' and then why does everyone cheer and yell and stomp and wave the cloth they call a 'flag' as if the request has already been answered, the blessing given?
"Or how about if it's a human whose job is preaching and such? Does that increase the odds of your blessing their country? And what about humans who serve as administrators in what they call a 'church'? A bishop, an archbishop, a cardinal, the pope? Does rank matter?
"Are you more likely to bless America for a Baptist than for a Methodist? Has an Episcopalian ever even asked you to bless America?
"How about what humans call 'just an average Joseph' or 'Josephine'? Some tired, middle-aged woman, a single mom working two jobs so she can afford to pay rent on her cramped mobile home. If she asks you to bless America, would you do it?
"Does she sometimes at night, as she crawls exhausted onto her misshapen, cratered mattress in her non-air-conditioned, cramped bedroom, ever take a deep breath and look up at the water-stained ceiling and say, 'God bless America'?
"And since Canada, Mexico and Central America are technically all part of America, are you expected to bless them as well when someone in the United States asks you to bless America? Would it help if they defined their terms better, that is, asked you to bless only the United States of America?
"And wouldn't that imply that they did not want you to bless Mexico or Canada or Central America, and if so, wouldn't that be a little more exclusive than you are typically comfortable with?
"In asking you to bless America, are they implying that you are not to bless either their allies or their enemies? Wouldn't that be like a child asking his parents to bless him, but not his siblings -- even if such an act might well be depicted in the book humans who call themselves 'Christians' use as a source of moral justification?
"The same book makes it pretty clear that the Jews are your chosen people, so it seems if you were going to bless one group and not another, it would be the Jews and not the United States of America. Wait, Dad, don't say it, I know: There are Jews in the United States. So they can be chosen there without everyone else being chosen, right? Can you send forth precision drone-like blessings, passing over, as it were, the undeserving, the unasking?
"Would the requested blessing also cover American Indians, indigenous people, Native Americans?
"If the petitioner disapproves of same-sex marriages and same-sex sexual relationships, and fears and/or hates ethnic groups other than his own, but those same people are also United States of Americans, is it implied that you not bless the people he doesn't like, even though -- according to you -- I distinctly insisted that humans love their enemies?
"And when they say 'God bless America', are they even asking? Or are they demanding? Shouldn't they say 'please'? And what exactly do they mean by 'May God bless America'?
"Is 'America' in such a mess right now because you did bless it or because you did not? Have you 'looked favorably upon' the nation or have you not or will you later, if they keep asking? Help me out here, Dad."
Had his dad been visible, the son would've seen him walking back from the kitchen with a freshly baked manna pizza. "Check this out, kiddo," he said. "This should get us through Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. It's really long, but I think it's about us. Anyway, I hope you weren't talking just then because I can't hear a Word when I'm in the kitchen."
Thanks, Kevin. Fun to write, fun to think about. I'm pretty sick of people speaking w/o thinking, esp. about what they consider the big stuff.Delete
"Is 'America' in such a mess right now because you did bless it or because you did not?" Favorite line. This was great.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sydney D. I feel more dad-son dialogues coming on.Delete