25 September 2016

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Donald Trump, The Flag, And The True Meaning Of Patriotism

A toast proposed by noted American Naval officer, Stephen Decatur, Jr., was popular at the time. At a party, Decatur held a glass high and proclaimed, "Our country – In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong." In popular usage, the quote "went viral," but it was rendered, "My country, right or wrong!" At first glance, that may seem to be a rallying cry for "true patriots."

Donald Trump
What most news reports don’t talk about is the good stuff. The old adage that “It’s not news when a dog bites a man, but it is news when a man bites a dog” is alive and well. The only thing that’s really changed is that we now have news on demand and the internet allows citizens to act as reporters.

Let's take a brief look at what it means to be patriotic, and let's use a sampling of news reports -- both mainstream and homegrown -- to ask some hard questions.


First up, here's an Illinois woman who says vandals cut down her flag. She says those who act out destructively to push their own agenda are "animals" whose actions threaten our freedom of speech. It's a "sick society," she says, when people have to be afraid to stand up for what they believe.


Here are some of the comments the video collected on YouTube. Which do you think express patriotic views? Is it those who would allow the lady to stand behind the candidate of her choice? Or do the ones who claim they have the right to destroy your property in the name of morality express the more patriotic view?
(License: Image author owned) 
And a couple of more...
(License: Image author owned)
Which is the Patriot - Is it the One Who Flies the Flag or the One Who Removes It?
A dictionary definition of "patriotism" goes like this:
Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one's own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects (Wikipedia).
On first blush, it would appear both the flag flyer and the flag destroyer are patriots -- since both are acting from an "emotional attachment."

That would open the gate a little wide, though. Emotions lead to murders, rapes, and rages daily... and none of those seem patriotic.

How about the etymology of the word, where did we get the idea of "patriotic" in the first place?

Here's the origin of "patriotic," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
1650s, "of one's own country," from French patriotique or directly from Late Latin patrioticus, from Greek patriotikos, from patriotes...
The raw definition doesn't help a whole lot, perhaps, but both do point back to "patriotism" as being passionate about ones country, as being in support of the virtues the country symbolizes.

For the United States of America, the primary virtue is FREEDOM.

Which is proclaiming freedom, then? Is it the one who raises an American flag along with a flag supporting her choice for president?

Or is it the one who takes a saw and fells the pole, flags and all?

Aren't both free to do as they wish?

A couple of quotes come to mind:
"My freedom to swing ends where your nose begins," (Abraham Lincoln and others).
And another, that may express the root of genuine American patriotism:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it (Evelyn Beatrice Hall).
Here's a look at a local news media story that brings patriotism to a level that may bring tears to some and give others reason to mock.

Let's turn now to a big news story about patrotism.
Professional football player, Colin Kaepernick says "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Kaepernick's decision adds an even deeper layer to a discussion of patriotism, one that is reminiscent of remarks made by a U.S. Senator in 1872.

Should one stand by his country no matter what?

A toast proposed by noted American Naval officer, Stephen Decatur, Jr., was popular at the time. At a party, Decatur held a glass high and proclaimed, "Our country – In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong."

In popular usage, the quote "went viral," but it was rendered, "My country, right or wrong!" At first glance, that may seem to be a rallying cry for "true patriots."

Senator Carl Schurz, however, took issue with that position. Speaking from the floor of the Senate, he made a remark that reflects what I believe to be the essence of patriotism:
'My country, right or wrong.' In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.

American Flag
Events that stir our patriotism create huge demands for more flags. This one, courtesy of The Flagmakers (License: Image author owned)
The United States of America constitute a floating platform of freedom on a globe marked by forced silence and external control.

Everyone who enters the country is quartered on a raft where individual rights are championed, but not at the expense of others. We're not here to guarantee success, but to create the environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

From the beginning, some took liberty to mean a release of responsibility. The opposite is true. Freedom for all requires and depends upon every individual contributing to the effort. We are a free country, but not a free ride. We are a country where right laws are upheld and wrong actions are stopped. Without law, there is no freedom.

No individual is above the law, and every law should uphold the Constitution. Without law, there is anarchy. When every man does what he wishes, no man, no woman, no child is safe.

When protestors smash windows and burn buildings, they aren't helping a cause, they are adding to the problem. They are attempting to achieve right ends by the wrong methods. 

The USA isn't a perfect boat. There's much work to be done.But to drill holes in the bottom, to set fire to the gunwales, to attempt to silence those who love the ship and want to see it stay afloat... that is treason.

You have the right to raise a flagpole with the flag of your choice, you have the right to sit or stand when the anthem is played, you have the right to run for office and to vote for the candidate you deem best.

True patriotism is to work together to build the country, to correct her errors, and to ensure every person's right to the blessings this country affords.
Use that freedom to build the boat, not to sink it. Use that freedom to respect others, not to belittle them. Use that freedom to truly KEEP America great. For she is.

About Today's Contributor
Don Sturgill writes about health of body, mind, and spirit. Find out more about the Roadturn philosophy on Roadturn.com, or contact Don via Twitter @DonSturgill.



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