(Uh-oh; I feel a rant coming on. Better skip the next two paragraphs if old-lady liberals annoy you.) Now, I was born at the very end of the Baby Boom and educated in the public school system by people whose dads or older brothers fought in WWII. This means that my formative years featured heavy indoctrination -- and I took it all in like a sponge -- with every form of "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" propaganda. Not until I spent time outside of the US in the 1980s did I realize that lots of other countries had freedom of religion and speech (etc.), so that Americans' oft-expressed view of ourselves as the only ones was considered charmingly provincial, at best, by educated folks around the globe. I gradually got over thinking the USA was All That, yet at the same time I was proud to be part of a country (even if it *wasn't* the only one on earth) where I was free to express such an opinion without fear of government reprisal.
Then came 9-11, and I, like many people, temporarily rediscovered what it was to love America unironically. Then came the aftermath of 9-11, right down to its inevitable conclusion, the current administration. Now almost 60, I would say that I have been pushed beyond the possibility of loving my country without rolling my eyes, let alone ever even temporarily regaining the national pride of my youth. And I am afraid to call myself a patriot -- though I still love my country (*rolls eyes*) -- for fear of being mistaken for someone who approves of what's going on these days. What does it mean to tout our freedom when our systems still oppress so many people? How --
Oh, wait; I'm sorry. Have I digressed? I believe I was doing a freedom-themed Friday Five. Back to that.
1. What's a movie that makes you feel patriotic?
I can think of three right off the top of my head: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (there's hokiness, but it mostly holds up, and always makes me cry), 1776 (I love it, and even with most of those old white-guy history myths now debunked, that final tableau still manages to move me deeply), and All the Presidents Men (freedom of the press! the good guys win!). But it's a TV show, The West Wing, whose depiction of government most makes me want to believe that the good stories we tell ourselves about ourselves might possibly have the potential to be at least a tiny bit true.
2. When you first started driving, what's something you did mostly because you could?
I've been driving for more than 40 years, so it's pretty hard to recall many specifics about that initial period. I am trying out all sorts of possible answers in my head -- donuts in a parking lot? a bit of engine-revving at a stop light? loud songs on the radio with the windows down? -- but nothing is sparking a memory. I'm sure I was pleased to have my license and the use of a family car, but for me it wasn't the iconic "get" that it seems to be for a lot of teens.
3. What's a good song whose title contains some form of the word "free?"
"The Best Things in Life are Free" (the 1920s one) is a great song that I've long loved. The only other candidates I can think of at the moment, "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Born Free" (the 1960s one), were also special in their respective ways, but I'll stick with my first thought. Here are two very different performances of it:
4. When did you last unexpectedly receive something for free?
My sons tell me that the correct answer to this question is "every day," because white privilege. And they're not wrong, but let's see if I can come up with something a little more specific to me ...
Well, my siblings are always picking up checks when we are out together, to the point that (1) it's almost not unexpected, and (2) I don't like it (I know I'm the financially needier one, comparatively, but neither of them is a Rockefeller). I try to get my share over the long haul, but my brother in particular is very good at slipping a credit card to the waitress before the check is even brought to the table. The most recent time this happened was at a family restaurant/concert outing last Sunday.
Sorry this answer isn't more interesting. I've gotten some great free stuff in my life, just not recently.
5. What's something you've given freely in recent weeks?
Nothing that I *oughtn't* to be giving for free -- like babysitting my grandson, for instance. :-) I suppose I could mention the free room and board that Number Two Son and his wife are still getting from me: I've been doing that for almost a year now, but, again, it hardly seems like something *any* mom wouldn't do if she could. The only part of it I deserve a special pat on the back for is being the lone person in this house who ever clears the hair out of the trap in the tub. (Eww.)
Speaking of my familial tenants, they are set to move out in a couple weeks. They bought my parents' house (parents are moving in with my brother), so it's still all very much in the family.