I’ve been accused of not being patriotic enough. Probably not because I refuse to deck myself out in red, white and blue on the 4th of July. And probably not because I don’t display the flag year-round or even on patriotic holidays. I have friends and family who have served and died fighting for America. I go to sleep and wake up with someone who made it his work for fourteen years. I am so very grateful for these people and the rights that they protect. I’m not a crazy anarchist building my underground bunker. Usually I get in trouble because I shoot off my mouth. But I think that’s the most patriotic thing I can do.
Patriotism is NOT: going to parades, hosting holiday barbecues, wearing flag lapel pins and/or tie tacks, going to sales on Memorial Day or putting your hand over your heart when the National Anthem is played. Nor is it agreeing with everything the president/government/political party says and does. And this is usually where I find myself in trouble. I once asked a young man in the military at what hypothetical point he would refuse to do what he was asked because he knew it was wrong. It was an innocent question not really meant to provoke. I was just curious. Suffice it to say it was not well received.
We talked in Sunday School this week about whether you should follow a ruler because he was appointed of God even if he was doing things that conflicted with what you think God would have him (or you) do. I piped up and said that here in America it is your absolute duty to speak up when you disagree with what is going on in your country. It’s what the country was built on. Ever heard of the REAL Tea Party? Or that familiar “Give me liberty or give me death” speech? THAT my friends is patriotism. Patriots stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Patriotism is being able to watch idiots burning flags and support their right to do so even when you disagree. But it’s also piping up when a grown-up cuts in front of a little kid in the grocery store line. It’s righting wrongs where you see them and supporting good so it can flourish.
That’s part of what’s missing here now. I watched a video about a cheating scandal at a Florida university today and the student in the video says that everyone in college cheats, it’s how the world does business. Patriots don’t cheat and furthermore, they blow the whistle on others who do. Patriotism makes you know your country is better than its lowest moment. It’s stumbling and recovering by owning up to your mistakes and still trying to keep fighting for good. And while a great many men and women do fight for good we’ve still not come so far that we’ll allow openly gay people to fight. We encourage them to live in the shadows, to lie even in the face of their own willingness to die as patriots. We’re still not as great as we can be. We still have far to go. <a href=”http://abcnews.go.com/Business/widespread-cheating-scandal-prompts-florida-professor-issues-ultimatum/story?id=11737137″>
You won’t find me sticking 1000 flags in my yard or agreeing wholeheartedly with everything one party says. But if you want to stand in front of the White House and fight for your right to speak freely, assemble your weird, creepy friends, stockpile arms or even (and don’t comment because I know I’m going to hear it on this) have an abortion I will stand with you and fight for those things. I won’t endorse your flag burning and I will highly recommend that you exercise your right to some free birth control, but I will stand with you while you are heard. Because that’s the kind of patriot I am and I’m secure enough in my love of country to say that I’d like to hear less God bless America and more God bless the whole wide world.