2008-06-27 / On Second Thought

It's not a criticism, it's an observation.

America, the beautiful
Mike Cox

Last week, the combination of pleasant weather, good music, and boredom got me off my fat butt and back down to Finlay Park for the Summer Concert Series. Elliot and the Untouchables provided some up tempo Blues, and the crowd was filled with those who nudge the dial of normalcy just a bit. It is way

better than watching CSI

Miami reruns.

Before the show started, we were all led in the Pledge of Allegiance by a designated Veteran. This habit started a few years back when the California Supreme Court ruled "One Nation Under God" didn't need to be included in the pledge.

At the next concert, someone asked the crowd to join in the Pledge of Allegiance to protest the ruling. The practice has continued because there isn't a way to cease the practice without appearing un- American. So we pledge our allegiance before we drink beer and boogie. It is like playing with a small child on a plane. Once you start, there is no easy way to quit.

The pledge is an odd tradition. Our forefathers, who knew extremely well what was, and wasn't freedom, spent months coming up with the perfect language to represent our feelings, desires, and dreams as a nation. Our corporate vision, if you will. The documents, like the principles behind them, are still with us.

A century later, two guys looking for a gimmick to celebrate Columbus Day, invented a pledge of allegiance for school kids to recite in honor of the man who brought disease, alcoholism, and reservations to America's native people.

The document's been edited three times and gone in and out of fashion over the decades. Today, we act like this is the most revered paragraph in the country's history. I wonder how many of the people at the concert could recite the Preamble to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Strange.

We parked our portable chairs just behind a large group of homeless people. I felt bad about being in their living room, but they didn't seem to mind. I guess they are used to it.

Several other concert goers settled near us but left when they saw the homeless clan. I'm sure most of them strongly support feeding the homeless and providing care; they just don't want to be in close proximity to them.

Outdoor concerts offer a great viewing opportunity for people watchers. Many of us will stick to our own kind unless tempted by something free. Music in the park attracts a mixing bowl of attitudes. As soon as the uptight realize no one is in danger, guards are dropped, smiles appear, and lifestyles blend. It is fascinating to stand on the sidelines and survey the action. Behavior, dress, actions; the variety is mind boggling.

Something struck me as I scanned the throngs of folks enjoying rare cool breezes and sultry blues; If a small, sleepy, conservative town like Columbia can be this diversified, how can anyone in their right mind declare their way of life, their personal and religious beliefs, their politics, to be the correct way for all of humanity?

Just sayin.

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