What Does 'Patriotism' Mean To You?
[Pardon My Rant]
The ideas of “Patriotism” and “Dissent” should never be at odds with each other.
However, many times when we celebrate July 4th - the independence of our country- we glorify one and ostracize the other. For years Patriotism has been kidnapped by many different factions with the aims of bottling it up and branding it for their own agendas.
Yet, Patriotism has no owner. It cannot be shaped or contained. Patriotism is watching a cloud float across the sky and sharing with friends what its shape resembles. There's no wrong answer and everyone has their own take. No matter how small or limiting one’s definition of the word may be, Patriotism will never deter your advances or waive you away. It is always welcoming and ever accommodating.
However, on July 4th we shy away from the tough, uncomfortable conversations. We avoid mirrors. We also cast aside those with opposing views and label them “Unpatriotic”. We tell them if they don’t like it, they can "leave." We second guess free speech and ask qualifying questions.
America is the greatest nation on this planet affording her dream of opportunities to millions. It was and continues to be the oasis of the dessert and the beacon of the sea. And with that understanding, we still strive to perfect this Union. Our Declaration of Independence commands that we do.
How else does one pursue happiness without constructive dissent and productive impatience? How else do you live without speaking your mind, good or bad, with words founded in the pure and unambiguous intent to protect our unalienable rights?
The Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Voting Rights Act coincidentally happened a week before our Nation’s birthday. Patriotism may have been the theme of the week, but while families and friends gathered for barbeques, parades, fireworks, and picnics, many conversations tackled a different set of topics. Red states and Blue States, Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives all had their fair share of negative and positive reactions to the Supreme Court rulings.
But America reached her highest form of self in those interminable moments of cantankerous debates over hotdogs and burgers or under the sky of red, white, and blue bursts of light. We can destroy to rebuild. We can fight for peace. We can offend to strengthen. We can respectfully disagree.
Patriotism is the love of one’s country and the willingness to sacrifice for it. Love can manifest itself in many ways. It does not always have to be affirmation or approval. It can be and should be the opposite if necessary.
Reginald Lewis was the first African American Billionaire in America. In his book, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun he states, “Although Harvard is known as very liberal; I sensed a real balance among the students. There were people on the left, right, and the center. The faculty was also pretty balanced. It seemed that regardless of the issue under discussion, you could always count on hearing several theories espousing an opposite point of view.”
Patriotism is love of country and love of self. If the two ever stand in contradiction of each other, it is your duty to find a remedy.
Errol Pierre is a writer, political junkie, and social commentator with a passion for Healthcare Policy. He can be reached at www.errolpierre.com