Thursday, July 3, 2008

How do you define patriotism?

Tomorrow we'll take a few moments and remember the founding of our country and how lucky we are to live here. This is a big 4th for me this year - I visited Williamsburg and Jamestowne in November and got a renewed sense of the struggle, physical, social, and political, that our predecessors had to go through to form our nation. I watched the John Adams miniseries to get a glimpse into the persona of some of our founding fathers. This is also a big one for me because of the impending election, which in some ways picks open old wounds about how we as a country and the leaders we chose behave.

Patriotism, its evidence and its lack have been the center of quite a few stump speeches, and I expect that it will continue to be a discussion point. How do you define patriotism?

  • I brought two children from another country to live in the United States. When my husband and I adopted them we had a clear sense that we were helping them to have a better life than they would have had in their birthplace.
  • I think we're wrong when we expect that patriotism means blind obedience to leaders. The founders of the country were the opposite of obedient - at least a number of them were. They knew that their current way of living wasn't working for the people and they weren't willing to settle for that. They were willing to argue against authority and to fight in order to build the place in which they could achieve the way of living they had dreamed about.
  • Part of patriotism, in my view, is to look toward the good of the whole and not only to my own benefit when I use resources and make decisions. It's feeling more and more immoral to waste food and gasoline and even fresh water. What I'm taking (looking out for myself) might be taking away from what we or someone else will need later. It's not enough to think about it and to talk about it. I need to do something that helps or I need to refrain from doing something that harms.
  • Can one really be patriotic and be uninvolved in the process? I think not - our systen was created around the idea that people who are governed need to be represented. Yet how often do we vote, or send letters to our congressmen with our views on an issue, or run for office, or volunteer or contribute to get a certain candidate elected?

Enough of the soapbox for one day, but let me end with this thought: when you're watching fireworks this weekend, think beyond the spectacle in the sky. Remember what the fireworks represent. It takes a lot of sparks to make a beautiful formation in the sky. Perhaps you are the spark that's needed to help our nation grow and prosper.

1 comment:

Timothy K. Hamilton said...

Please put an attribution next to my photo, as required by my Creative Commons license.
It should read "Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton"
Thank you, and thanks for using my photo.