Thoughts of an American Centrist

Friday, May 13, 2005

Patriot Community

There's a well known quote by Hitler propaganda chief Herman Goering that reads:

"Of course the people don't want war... [but]the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Cease your groaning, I'm not going to go into a diatribe about how we were all duped into war. I would like to make one request, however; the next time you call someone's partiotism into question for not supporting a war, please think twice. Patriotism is not directly correlated with one's hawkishness. Rather, Patriotism is much more abstract. Patriotism is a loyalty to one's country, a willingness to sacrifice something of your own in order to contribute to our fellow citizens.

Obviously, the soldiers that risk their bodies and put their lives on hold to go overseas have the most steadfast claim to Patriotism. They are not the only ones, however. The teacher who stays long after school to help bright, but misguided, students grow into the leaders of tomorrow is a Patriot. The volunteers who help the Red Cross collect blood are Patriots. The men and women who stood 9 hours in line to vote last November were patriots. The young woman who risks ridicule and contempt from those close to her by advocating an unpopular, but dearly held, belief is a Patriot. The CEO of the plagued company who takes a voluntary pay cut down to $1 per year when he asks his employees to take a cut of their own is a Patriot. Yes, even the man who holds a sign in protest outside the capitol because he yearns for change in his government is a Patriot.

Though none of these simple acts of Patriotism compares to those exhibited by our men and women in uniform, it is for we simpler Patriots that they fight. That is why we give our service men and women a distinct accolade. We call them Heroes.

So the next time you are confronted by an angry liberal who thinks that we never should have taken out the Taliban, please feel free to criticize his argument. Call it naive, call it stubborn, call it shortsighted, call it a dangerous threat to security, call it incredibly misguided. Do not call him unpatriotic, for you have no idea how much he actually loves this country.

If all would just concede that even the most outspoken extremist at the antipode of your political world is merely advocating what he feels is best for the country, I believe that we could return to a society of fraternity and bipartisanship.

In the days following 9/11, this country knit together like it hadn't in 60 years. On that fateful day, all of us knew that we had been attacked not as urban or agrarian, liberal or conservative, black or white, but as one monolithic entity. We all hurt. We all cried. We all beamed with pride when those Heroes raised our flag over the rubble of our collective tragedy. We all knew our country would pull through it, because worse has happened to our fathers, and still the American Spirit lived on. We all hope for that day of peace when our city on the hill is no longer beseiged by the slings and arrows of the cowardly. We may have different opinions on how to get to that time, but we all look with faces turned upwards towards that common goal.


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