Folks, we have a problem on our hands. Every few days, or weeks, we put the hard-working men and women who are in charge of lowering and raising our national flag–whether in parks, schools, public libraries, post offices, or anywhere else–to considerable hardship. To wit, we make them repeatedly perform the tedious task of lowering the Stars and Stripes down to half-mast, and then raising it again a few days later when the period of ‘national mourning’ –declared in response to our latest public massacre–is over. This tedious, time-consuming task is a nuisance, and it is unfair that these loyal compatriots of ours should be subjected to this endless repetition on a monotonous theme. Come wind, rain, snow, hail, or scorching summer, no matter what the season, time-zone, or locale, this task has to be performed again and again. Enough is enough.
Sigmund Freud talked (and talked) of endless therapy and neurotic repetition. Trust me, if the good doctor knew of what went on in the United States in this day and age, he might find himself forced to extensively revise his theories of neuroticism to accommodate the pathology on display. Or perhaps he might be gratified at finding here, that long-awaited confirmation of his postulated ‘death drive,’ the one that was marked by ‘aggression, repetition compulsion, and self-destructiveness.’ Our nation would then have fulfilled a salutary scientific role in providing empirical confirmation of this radical revision to Freud’s psychoanalytic framework.
But if we do not wish such an exalted role for our nation, then we have a simple alternative at hand, one that would accommodate our national predilection for things that go bang-bang and pop-pop and boom-boom, and for the periodic massacre of innocents. Because, soon enough, we’ll be offering more thoughts and prayers, standing around solemnly with heads bowed, and yes, sending out the trusted custodians of ‘Ol Glory to bring it shimmying down to a more appropriate position.
Let’s just keep the flag flying at half-mast. As a nation, we deserve no less.