Friday, July 04, 2014

On the Question of Patriotism

When I rose to write this Fourth of July, I found I was unable to find proper words to suit my purpose. As is often the case in these times, I began to read the words of other writers and journalists I consider influences. All of this searching on my part was in the hopes my own research might provide me some inspiration. Inspiration wasn't all I found. In fact, I found a short, but powerful column far better than I could ever have done myself.

The writer's name is Ann Friedman. She has entitled her most recent work, Merriam-Webster on the 4th of July. I enclose it here in its entirety. Quakers and liberals both have issues with a war of combat and an unquestioning devotion to any government that acts wrongly or exceeds its power.

Last year a non-American asked if I consider myself patriotic. After many ums and ahs and caveats, I said yes. I told him that I feel about America the way I feel about family: I didn’t choose it, I can’t control or endorse everything it does, but I do love it.

This is an important 4th of July distinction:


love that people feel for their country


a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries


the feelings and beliefs of people who think that their country is always right and who are in favor of aggressive acts against other countries

Patriotism doesn’t ask that you establish a hierarchy and rank your country above others. Patriotism doesn’t demand your pride or even your loyalty. Patriotism doesn’t require aggressive demonstrations of your power. Patriotism is just love. And that, for all of America’s flaws, is something I feel.

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