What is Patriotism?

One of my favorite memories is that of July 4 in the 50s and 60s.  Our family, along with the family of my father’s brother, went to the Washington Monument for spectacular fireworks.  We’d spread out blankets, and we’d have our own sparklers.  It was magical for a child.  My folks were both WWII veterans (that’s how they met), and patriotism was part of my upbringing.  It still is.  

But too many people today have usurped the word “patriot” for their own personal interests.  When I hear someone self-identify today as a “patriot”, I shudder.  He or she typically espouses views far different from what I would consider patriotic.  He or she also typically joins self-described patriotism with biblical sentiments.  Sadly, these so-called patriots are (too often) neither patriotic nor following the New Testament.

Patriotism, to me, means freedom with obligations to our fellow humans.  It means making sure that all of us has the right to vote, unfettered by rules designed to exclude some of us.  It means making sure that we all contribute to the common good, the general welfare, for ourselves and our posterity.  What might that look like?

  • It means acknowledging that there was virtually no voter fraud in 2020, and that President Biden is the rightful President.
  • It means not offering excuses for an armed insurrection at our seat of power – the U.S. Capitol – and condemning those who attempted to overturn a legitimate election.
  • It means accepting our troubled history, and removing monuments to traitors who fought to retain slavery.
  • It means accepting that we are a nation of immigrants (except for those native Americans whom we treated so terribly), and that immigrants do not only hail from Europe.  As a result, our complexion is changing, and that’s not something to fear.
  • It means not elevating the 2nd Amendment over all other provisions of the Constitution and its Amendments.
  • It means that we need to care for our earth – including our nation – in the face of serious climate issues.
  • It means allowing all people to vote.  People died for this right that many are now trying to restrict.
  • It means caring for our fellow Americans, regardless of their race, economic level, or social status.  That includes basic necessities like clean water and health care.  
  • It means getting vaccinated, for the sake of all of us.
  • It means not trading in unfounded rumors or rejecting legitimate news sources because the “patriot” somehow knows better.
This list could go on and on.  

I’m deeply discouraged about the future of our country.  But I’ll shoulder on, and try to engage in my tiny corner of the world.  After all, I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person.

I just hope that someday I can call myself, openly and proudly, a patriot.  

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