Patriotism by Kyle Singleton

Today I’ve decided to let Kyle Singleton take the stage again. Before giving him his moment, though, I thought I’d introduce you to the part of me that Kyle comes from.

Sometimes a crazy idea pops into my head–like, “whoa–what if Match.com took over the world and arranged everyone’s marriages with their compatibility system?” I think everyone thinks these sorts of things to some degree–crazy, extreme fixes to problems in our society.

Part of me (more than part of me, actually) realizes that these ideas are pretty impractical and flat-out horrible plans, but my mind will latch onto the idea for a while anyway and run with it, expanding on the idea, creating scenarios and stories about it. I usually don’t love the idea enough to actually put anything down on paper, and I certainly don’t think it is a viable solution to any world problem, but it serves as a nice way to entertain my mind, which demands to be entertained constantly.

When I was writing Kyle’s Magnificent Scheme, Kyle became the mouthpiece of some of my crazier ideas. I don’t believe in them, but I made a character who does, and who loves to share them with anyone who will listen.

So here is Kyle, sharing his ideas about patriotism in honor of the 4th of July. (This is an excerpt from my manuscript, Kyle’s Magnificent Scheme.)

He leaned against a wall under a neon “Budweiser” sign, contemplating the American flag displayed in a window across the street.

“What are they trying to prove with that? Is it security to keep the Patriotism Police away? ‘Ooh, look at my window. I’m a real American here.’” He smiled to himself when heads of departing drunks turned his way.

“Why are we supposed to love our country?” he continued. “It protects us? If that’s what you’d like to believe I won’t dash that dream. Maybe some other time. What else? It gives us ‘Freedoms’ we wouldn’t get anywhere else? Obviously we’d have even more freedoms without any countries telling us what to do.

“This is what you get for loving your country: you get blinded and controlled. When people love their country they allow it to do whatever it likes—they even cheer it on. They have parties with fireworks to get worked into a frenzy. Explosions—beautiful sounds of war!

“When something bad happens—‘Oh no, our beloved country has done something terrible!’—we can’t disown or divorce it. We can’t excommunicate it. We have to forgive it because we love it. We have to believe its weak explanations and promises, and we don’t even demand an apology. All we need to return to that frenzy, that patriotic buzz, is another big celebration.”

“You talkin’ ‘bout America, freak?” An especially-drunk drunk wobbled in front of him, squinting as if trying to decide where in the blur Kyle was actually standing.

Kyle gleefully turned the target of his speech from the general sidewalk traffic to this slurring man. “You know what the best part about patriotism is? No, I can see you don’t have a clue about anything I’m talking about. But don’t worry—I’ll tell you. The best part of patriotism is that it puts you in a great big loving group. Everyone in the group loves you because you are a part of the country, and you, in return, love them. You have a place to belong and lots of friends just like yourself. You’ll do anything just to stay in that group; you’ll do whatever the big boss-man says. To make your group tighter, you attack everyone outside of it—push them far away so you and your buddies can get even closer. Of course, it doesn’t stop there—”

“You prick! You little traitor!” The drunk aimed a punch at him, but Kyle joyfully dodged it.

He laughed in the man’s face.

The man charged him suddenly and took him to the ground. Kyle scratched and struggled his way free. He managed to get on his feet first and gave the attacker a huge kick in the side. Then he ran, and none too soon, because the man’s buddies were teaming up to come after him.

Kyle knew the streets well and quickly got away from his pursuers; his only problem was keeping his laughter stifled as he went.

“A good confrontation—the one thing guaranteed to lift a man’s spirits,” he said to himself.

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