Love of country, like love of a person, should not be conditional. As Shakespeare put it, “Love is not love when it alteration finds.” (Sonnet 116). Or as Elie Wiesel put it,
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
It is safe to say Burroughs was not indifferent and neither am I. Flag-waving is not necessarily love, especially if it tolerates no criticism or recognition of error or flaw in our nation. I dislike much about the TEA Party but recognize and applaud the lack of indifference there. Protest is as American as apple pie and motherhood. Picket signs in Ferguson MO say, “This is what democracy looks like.” I think protest of injustice is what love of country looks like. The worst thing about American politics is not in those who stand up for their vision of America but in those who do not. The worse harbinger of the future of America is not any political philosophy or party but that half of eligible voters do not vote.
William Burroughs’ “Thanksgiving Prayer” is satire. Being satire some will laugh out loud and others will cringe or perhaps become angry. If you know in advance that making fun of national symbols and patriotic rhetoric is offensive you probably should not open the link below. If you can laugh at yourself, if you love our country despite its shortcomings, then, by all means, open it.