Questions on Patriotism
Questions About Patriotism
Fourth of July celebrations get me thinking about patriotism and its role in our country. We are good at flag waving and platitudes. But our history shows we are not good at living up to our ideals. So patriotic holidays get me asking questions about what patriotism really means in America.
Why is patriotism considered the highest of virtues? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about people? Shouldn’t we love morality, justice, or tolerance more? Christ said we should love our neighbor, not our country.
Why is patriotism always expressed in military terms? War is considered the ultimate sacrifice for country. But our “freedom” has been achieved by social and political activists. The struggles for justice and equality were fought by abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights workers, voting rights activists, labor union organizers, whistle blowers, and peace marchers. Why are these people not honored as patriots?
Why do we revile the dissidents who loved America enough to criticize it and work to make it better? Questioning our government is essential to democracy. It is the highest expression of patriotism. But too often these patriots are blacklisted, beaten, killed, or jailed.
Real patriotism requires active citizens. Do we love our country enough actually participate in the political process? Do we believe in democracy enough to join a group, advocate for an issue, or work for a candidate? Or is politics something you don’t discuss in polite company?
I suspect we know the answer to these questions. In America patriotism is just another propaganda tactic to protect the ruling elites. Our shallow patriotic rituals are one way to keep us from thinking about the real issues. It is another “wedge” issue to divide the 99% of us and keep us politically docile, disorganized, and under control.
This 4th of July do something really patriotic. Become an active citizen.
By Phil Anderson
Philip Anderson is a 20 year veteran of the U.S. military