Patriotism – My Version

American Flag in Sun at Florida National Cemetery

Image by dixiehwy via Flickr

 

Just to be clear, I am writing this as a citizen of the United States of America. I don’t know how my thoughts will relate to citizens of other countries. There will surely be similarities but I expect that there will be differences as well. I am sure that other Americans will disagree with my opinions as well, perhaps thinking them old-fashioned and out of date. Nevertheless, they are my opinions and I think they are representative of the America of my youth in the 50’s. If they are wrong today, perhaps it is because something has been lost, either by America or by Americans.

Nothing to do with politics

I don’t want to get involved in the tug of war between political parties. Patriotism is not about politics. Ideally, politics should reflect patriotism because love of country should be the foundation of public service. If you are a politician for any other reason than for love of country, I respectfully ask for your resignation forthwith and if you refuse, I promise to do everything I can to get you defeated. I will try to stay off the soapbox as I continue.

Thankfulness for our way of life

I see patriotism as love of my country but over the years, I have found that it’s hard to appreciate what you accept as normal. The amazing freedom of our life in the US is largely unappreciated because we can’t imagine living any other way. There have been times in my life where I questioned my country. All the while I was enjoying the freedom and opportunity afforded by our constitution, I wanted it to redistribute and manage resources for the ‘greater’ good. I was in a special place at that time, unburdened by responsibility either financial or personal and felt very generous about telling those that were what they should do or rather what the government should do and take. I was critical of my country because it did not manage the distribution of goods and services and make everybody equal in resources.

Over time I came to appreciate the amazing genius of our country’s founders and the power that individuals free to follow their own paths have to make a richer and better world than where the government controls them and the resources. So briefly, in my young adult years, I wanted my country to do more regardless of the impact on personal freedom. Because I took those freedoms so for granted, they meant nothing compared to real, or imagined, social inequities that I trusted government to fix. I am past that foolishness.

The Individual versus the group

What I failed to understand was the genius in giving freedom and recognizing that the rights recognized in the constitution are individual rights. When those rights are stifled as in a socialist system under the guise of protecting all, everyone looses. We are the great country of today because of millions of free individuals making the best decisions for themselves and their families, enriching themselves and others in the process and generously extending help and support to free people everywhere. This is what I am proud of in my country and I hope that my life has contributed in some small part to that greatness.

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