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Ring the bells that still can ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen, “Anthem” 

I’d sit in front of the TV for hours, welded to my recliner, mindlessly clicking through channels. My then-wife occupied the couch, reading. Yes, it was quite the life.


Politics-wise, I was fuming, frequently decrying, well, everything. But if asked to expound, I could only sputter and shake. I could not debate intelligently. I was not informed.


Then, near decade’s beginning, the world changed -- forever. The Giants blew a 5-0 lead in the sixth game of the World Series and dropped the finale the next day. (Whoops, sorry. Wrong trauma.)


Then: 9/11. I bought an American flag and, like a true patriot, hung it proudly on my wall at work. When we bombed Afghanistan, I was all for it.


But not long afterward, my head nearly spun from my neck when I heard Bush swear Saddam Hussein was the real problem. This was so monumentally absurd it vaporized my ennui. I began to dig.


I read, in a letter to the editor, of the Project for the New American Century. Disbelieving at first, I horrifyingly discovered PNAC’s arrogant nutball members were serious about their imperialistic ambitions, and I reeled, heartsick, as I saw White House policy meticulously following their plans.


What, personally, could I do to stop this sure train wreck in the offing? After all, I was a patriot. My country needed me!


I researched, read and researched some more. I went to rallies. Demonstrations. I marched, stood on street corners and held signs. I went to town hall meetings, attended talks, signed petitions. I pleaded with people, argued with co-workers. I fired off impassioned e-mails to my representatives.

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I began writing facts-packed essays for the Internet, eventually becoming a freelancer for “hard” publications. Meanwhile, missiles flew into Baghdad.


The flag came down from my cubicle wall.


The Constitution’s deliberate dismantling continued. Though far from a fan, I joined the anybody-but-Bush crowd and issued bubbly columns promoting John Kerry.


My chirpiness evaporated on November 2, 2004, when I saw an(other) “election” stolen. Without fair balloting, America was doomed. I fantasized about leaving it. Impossible: I was married, had a mortgage, blah, blah, blah…


March 2005: I caught a break. Divorce was requested by my aforementioned then-wife (the third, and hopefully last, in a series; yes, my slow learning encompasses several categories). We sold the house. Suddenly, I was unencumbered and had the means to flee. I chose Costa Rica. Now, here I am.

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During my move’s three-year run-up, I occasionally wrote of my intentions. Flak came from all sides. Some questioned my patriotism.


That’s OK. I question it, too. After seeing love-of-country soullessly manipulated by war-profiteering “leaders” loyal only to their bottom lines, I’ve had my fill of flag-waving.


I’ve also been chided for not staying and fighting, or for “only” writing in protest. OK, I’ll bite: What perfect form should resistance take? Aye, but there’s the rub, for my detractors invariably prove as clueless as I when it comes to offering the bulls-eye plan by which we shall “take our country back.”

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Mark Drolette is a writer who lives in Sacramento, California.

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