Sunday, May 26, 2024

Most Americans are not informed patriots, but ignorant passives.

Weekly Opinion Editorial



by Steve Fair


     “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it,” Mark Twain said.

     The original 16th century European meaning of the term patriot applied to anyone who was a fellow countryman, regardless of socio-economic status.  The term patriot has evolved today into meaning the feeling of love, devotion, and a sense of attachment to a country or state. 

     George Orwell distinguished patriotism from nationalism saying patriotism is by nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.  Nationalism is concerned primarily with a desire for power and prestige.  Anarchists (no government) oppose patriotism.  Because they don’t recognize government authority or geographic boundaries, anarchists declare patriotism arrogant and egotist.  Three observations:

     First, there are patriots of every political stripe.  Americans of all races, ethnicities, and political affiliation can be patriots.  They can love America.  There are times to agree to disagree, not fight to the death with those who differ.   When the bullets are flying in combat, there is no time to check a fellow soldier’s voter ID card for Party affiliation.  All are patriots in the foxhole or in Arlington National cemetery.  Republicans and Democrats don’t have a monopoly on patriotism.  Recognizing Americans- both liberal and conservative- can be patriots is a good first step to healing the divide in this country.

     Second, the term patriot is misused today.  It’s used as a ‘code word’ in certain groups.  The neo-patriots are the pure, others the unclean.  The term patriot is tossed around like a beach ball at a rock concert to identify those who jump higher and run faster than establishment types.  Patriot has become a term to divide, not unite, spilt, not fuse.   Often used by those who claim the name of Christ, it brings us to the third point:   

     Third, Christians should be patriots of heaven.  This world is not their home- they are just a passing through.  Believers should be focused on the eternal, not the temporal.  They should be good citizens and patriotic.  They should exercise civic responsibility.  But they should recognize the temporal nature of politics.  Their allegiance and focus should be on loving God with all their heart, soul and mind and their neighbor as themselves.  When Christians use worldly tactics just to win a temporal election, they put into question their spiritual citizenship.  

     In his farewell address to the nation in 1989, President Ronald Reagan said America needed an ‘informed patriotism.’  “We need to do a good job teaching our children what American is and what she represents,” the Gipper said.  In the 34 years since he said that, Americans are not informed patriots, but ignorant passives.

     Memorial Day was Monday.  It was established in 1868 to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War and is always celebrated on the last Monday of May.    Most Americans look at it as a day to get together with family, have cookouts and start the Summer.  If they were ‘informed, they would recognize the liberty they enjoy cost the lives of real patriots.  American freedom doesn’t exist because a political pharisee shouted louder and was more been more bombastic than a political rival.  Liberty is alive because of the sacrifice of unselfish heroes, who loved country more than life.  May we never lose sight of that!    

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