Patriotism has been taking it on the nose in the USA of late.
Social media and Big Media alike feature wall-to-wall coverage of rioters “dissing” the country, what it stands for (or rather, what they say it stands for), and “the system.” Tearing down statues of the nation’s founders, suggesting Mt. Rushmore should be destroyed because it’s on “stolen Native American land,” refusing to stand for the National Anthem, posting anti-American diatribes on social media, and burning flags are now par for the course.
Ironically, those expressing their displeasure are doing so in “a system” that gives them the blessing of freedom of speech, expression even, and assembly. No one tracks them down and puts them in jail for saying what they do – this even though many of these new, “woke” individuals try to “call out” and “cancel” anyone who disagrees with their point of view.
People sacrificed and died for our civil liberties, yet the agitators hold forth in mind-boggling lack of self-awareness, attacking the very ideals that protect their right to express themselves, however obnoxiously.
You’d be forgiven for thinking American patriotism is dead, or at least in its last throes.
Meanwhile, patriotism remains one of the most powerful emotions known to humanity, one of the world's most potent forces. It's something we feel more often than think about. All people around the globe feel it to one degree or another.
But no nation possesses the wealth of patriotic symbols found in the United States. No country boasts the number of patriotic songs—enough for entire concerts and then some—as the American nation state. “USA,” “USA,” “USA” is a powerful chant.
Yes, it is true, the United States is far from perfect, and sometimes we struggle to realize "liberty and justice for all." But no nation's history even remotely approaches America's attempt to believe in, fight to protect, and celebrate human freedom. No nation continues to attract immigrants from all over the world, not for the weather but for the freedom and opportunity America provides.
Truly felt and expressed American patriotism is about more than a love for the land and a love for the people. America is about ideals. Patriotism at its best is about what we believe, what we live for and what we are willing to die for.
American patriotism is about individual liberty, the land of the free and the home of the brave. It's about individual worth and dignity. It’s decidedly not about white supremacy, a recent revisionist idea masquerading as history.
American patriotism is about lex rex, “the law is king,” not rex lex, “the king is law.” No king, no president, no dictator or regime, no political entity is of greater eternal value than the single person—free to think, free to worship, free to work and own the fruits of one's labor, free to pursue opportunity. This is the national vision that gave meaning and dynamism to the first two hundred years of this nation's history.
America’s ideals are currently being trampled by a set of agitators variously motivated by legitimate concerns about racial justice, along with considerable illegitimate concerns for greed, control, power, class or race warfare, Marxism, Leftist ideology, hate.
Yet these ideals are precious concepts. They are what God intended human life to be. They are worthy of patriotism.
I sincerely hope that a new interest and support for American ideals will develop. I think they are as close to timeless as humanly constructed political philosophy can get. They work, and they have worked, with fits and spurts and improvements, for more than two centuries. We the people are imperfect. We have a checkered history, but we the people have moved toward ever greater applications of our founding, exceptional ideals, for all people of all races, ethnicities, and more.
I hope American patriotism is not dead. Indeed, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I hope the death of American patriotism is “greatly exaggerated.”
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020
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