Lets talk about Patriotism
There is something happening these days that is driving a lot of us "wordy people" crazy (forgive me, I am an author. Well one who is fully reliant on spellcheck)… It is the bastardization of words that already have set, easy to look up, meanings and being twisted to mean something else.
Let’s begin with the word “patriotism”.
Here is the actual definition of the word: the quality of being patriotic; devotion to and vigorous support for one's country.
In this very short, very clear, description where do you see one mention of selfish individualism? Or having the freedom to do whatever you want to do? Or An excuse not to do your part in helping your community remain safe and healthy?
The reason those things are not part of the definition of patriotism is because they literally go against the actual meaning of the word.
Try to remember back to whatever you might have been taught about patriotism in school?
Paul Revere was an established silversmith who risked his business, his family and the warmth of his home to spend an entire night riding town to town warning them about the coming threat of British soldiers. Again, Revere was not a soldier at the time (in fact he was kind of infamous for being a bad soldier later in his life). He acted on his own in support of the dream of a new country he believed in.
The founding fathers included a system of checks and balances in the Constitution to protect the people… all the people… from any one branch of the government abusing their power. They knew this meant the system might over-rule their own personal interests. But they knew it was right for the long-term health of this new nation.
Abraham Lincoln recognized human rights should not be limited by the color of one’s skin. He held the line against awesome political presure to uphold the principals of the nation against the southern rebellion during one of the darkest periods of this country’s history.
Let's not forget the personal sacrifices my father, and probably your fathers and grandfathers, made to side track their young adult lives to fight the growing tyranny of Nazy Germany and Imperial Japan.
In a time when the nation was a tinder box of racial unrest, Dr. Martin Luther King told his followers the key to change was through peaceful demonstration. He led in a way that maintained the health of the nation as a whole. He even paid the ultimate price while trying to keep the nation from splitting apart.
What about Sen. John McCane’s life story? He flew a ground attack jet in the skies over Vietnam. He was shot down and captured by the enemy. When the enemy learned he was the son of a high ranking US official they wanted to bartor his early release in a propoganda ploy. John refused to be release while fellow servicemen continued to be tortured in barbaric POW camps. He continued to serve his country representing the people of Arizona as their Senator. Despite a very divided electorate during his presidential bid, he opted to run a clean campaign even when his VP choice did not. Often correcting his followers when they claimed his opponent was a “secret Muslim” and not American born. One of his last acts defying his party to cast the deciding vote that would have left millions of Americans without health care options. Living his life doing what was right and not always what was popular or easy until his death in 2017.
These are all great examples of people who put country first. Not party, Republican or Democrat. Not north or south. But what was best for the entire nation first.
Do you think any one of these people would have thought twice about wearing a mask if it meant their neighbor might not get sick? Do you think any of these people would have questioned a mandated vaccine? Well, we know the answer to that because mandated vaccines are precisely why we do not still face the scourge of polio, diphtheria, rubella, mumps, and measles. Our ancestors participation in what was rigtht for the good of the nation were great acts of real patriotism.
Patriotism is not hugging a flag and declaring you will defend your right to make bad choices with an assault rifle. That’s posing. If I hear one more person say “I’m not against the science. I know the pandemic is real and I know the vaccine is one way we can fight it. I am not getting the vaccine because I don’t think the government has the right to tell me what I should and should not do with my body.”
This might be the most childish thing I have ever heard grown adults say. I’ve heard three year olds make more compelling arguments for why they should be allowed to eat candy at bedtime.
Why is it such a difficult concept to understand that your personal freedoms end right where they might inflict harm on someone else. Period. Our ancestors would be ashamed of us for trying to justify the deaths of 700,000 fellow citizens. Half that many American’s died during WWII. Do we justify that number by saying well half those deaths could be tied to pre-existing conditions and the rage of malaria and influenza that happened at the same time. We went to war over the 3000 Americans who died during 9/11. Was their ever a moment where someone suggested they all knew the inherent risks of airplanes and tall buildings. Is there anything less patriotic than the gross minimization of the Americans who lost their lives during a pandemic. Especially nearly two years with a proven free effective vaccine available that some people see as a threat to their freedom, call those who take it sheep, despite themselves starting to literally inject live stock de-wormer. If I hear one more person exclaim that "Masks don't work! The virus can still get through!" I want them to demand the doctors at the next medical procedure they have be unmasked. Sure, they might not be 100% effective. But even if they reduce the risk of someone accidentally sneezing on me on an airplane, isn't that enough reason?
Long before the pandemic, it has been the practice in Asian countries to mask up if you're even just slighting feeling under the weather. Why? Because its the least anyone can do to help protect the health of your friends, families, and neighbors. Sure its a little inconvenient, but it shows that they care about their community. And it never comes with a gripe.
Wearing a mask in confined places, taking a free painless shot and respecting business owners just trying to keep their doors open by doing their part to minimize another nationwide flair-up of the virus is so little to ask. Think about the sacrifices of all those ancestors and what they had to endure. Think about just how minimal your slight discomfort is in the effort to keep your own family, your own neighbors, and yes your entire country safe and healthy.
Real patriotism is honoring what the flag stands for. Not the flag itself.