Rendered Fat Content


John F. Peto: Lights of Other Days (1906)

" … Have A Happy, anyway."

Us moderns do not celebrate HolyDays, we observe holidays instead. A Holiday serves as a secularized HolyDay such that even in the unlikely event that a Holiday started out as a HolyDay, most forms of actual religious observance, of humility, charity, or dignity will have been beaten out of any formal observance. One might succeed in privately genuflecting in the general direction of something genuinely sacred, but only if no spectacle's attempted. The spectacles belong solely to the secularists now, and are often performed with passion and fervor, but only in the general direction of mammon.

It's generally considered proper behavior to wish another "A Happy" on secular HolyDays, even if the greeting grates on one's soul.
"Have a happy Memorial Day," for instance, seems little more than a contradiction. Wouldn't "Have a solemn Memorial Day" better serve the intention of the celebration, if, indeed, one can ever be said to celebrate Memorial Day? My memories of that HolyDay was of visiting graves, with my mother always begging off, and leaving flowers, but that was back before the fuller secularization of that day, before it became focused upon veterans and their sacrifices and forgot about all the grandmas and great aunts which greatly outnumber the veterans in our family, probably in yours, too, and while our grandmas never stormed any beaches. some of them lost brothers and kids in those wars and suffered just as much as any veteran ever did, and so might be worthy of remembrance as well.

The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of a document, the so-called founding of our nation. It's the day when jingoism seems sacred, when we worship "rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air," as if weapons were the symbol of our great nation, as if our militarism made our nation what it's become, and perhaps it has. We've found ourselves in more or less continual wars since our founding. We claim to have always been defending our freedoms when fighting, but that was not always the reason we landed on those foreign shores. We long proclaimed to have never been attacked on our home soil, but that's no longer true. We win some and lose plenty, but never seem to lose the notion that we are the best nation, which we might even be, land of the free and the home of the brave, or something.

Me? I feel embarrassment when called upon to publicly celebrate something like freedom. Freedom seems like such a personal gift that waving it around in public seems sort of loutish, improper. The public proclamation of pride at being the best seems like back-handed criticism of the rest, among whom live people just like us though perhaps not quite as fortunate, at least as judged by our values, such as they've become. I believe that our patriotic spirit wounds us, that we wound ourselves whenever we engage in it, that The Fourth of July above all the HolyDays seems more perverse than sacred as currently celebrated. The rockets red glare scares the Hell out of small children and pets, and should. It leaves me cringing, too, cringing and wondering how it might be if we remembered to keep these sabbaths holy. We seem to attempt to recreate pasts that probably never were and inevitably degrade into overt shows of force which I'm certain satisfies those who worship mammon but which leaves the few remaining penitent among us cringing. Try to Have A Happy, anyway.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver