July 3rd ,2010
As I sit here in Saudi Arabia as July 4th approaches, I wonder just what is Patriotism.
Thomas Jefferson spoke for it, as did Lincoln , Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy's words have resounded in me my entire life, for John F. Kennedy whether you liked or hated him ,agreed with his policies or not agree with him. He was a Patriot. "Ask not what your country can do for you ,but ask what you can do for your country"(Inauguration speech 1961). Patriotism is more than military service, more than public service, both of which I have done in my life. Its remembering that we are a part of the process whether we like it or not, whether we actively participate, we complain or feel apathetic for as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, we are a "government of, by and for the people. " That means all the people, no matter what sex they are, what race they are or what religion, whether they are native born or recently immigrated. The American domestic patriot is often heard calling fellow citizens and their officials to this standard. To the covenant created by men such as Adams, Franklin, Paine , Jefferson and Hancock.
A government of all the people. Kennedy's call is distinctly a citizenly call, and never more so than when, as the citizen stands firm "against the proud gods and commodores of this earth" and calls every violation of the covenant made by the Founding fathers to account and not just the popular causes, but unpopular causes as well, for a Patriot also must claim responsibility for his/her own behavior in the treatment of others. When we lose our sense of humanity then we are no longer that Patriot that we claim to be. I have spent my entire adult life in public service, but never thought much about that I was a patriot until recently as I look back over my life. Even what I do in education is Patriotism. For we are called to instill in our students wherever we teach in America or abroad the core values of humanity, courage, hard work, compassion,forgiveness and showing mercy. We may be role models as foreign teachers whether we like it or not to our students, we are a face of America. These items of our humanity are all things instilled in our Constitution. Patriotism for me not only voicing agreement with my government and supporting it, but it also means voicing disagreement as well. My government right or wrong is not Patriotism, that's the road to fanaticism. We are not only called to protect our nation, we are also called to protect its future, its resources , to protect its institutions from one sided rule of fanatics whether conservative, religious or liberal from taking away the rights of some or all that do not agree with their view. To protect each other from racism, bigotry and hate. To take Kennedy's words to heart. To ask ourselves what have we done for each other to make the nation whole and heal its wounds. Patriotism is a call to action. What can I do for my country? That's Patriotism. Happy Fourth of July , my Fellow Patriots.
Willy Scanlon is an educator, free lance writer, blogger and a Patriot living out of the Box.