Believing in one’s country is a lot like believing in an anthropomorphic god. Even though these concepts are intellectually limiting, they are indelibly imprinted on our psyche from an early age and become useful tools in managing our everyday lives. In a perfect world, there would be no flags or borders to divide us and god would not need to be summoned to help steer our lives. Still, that’s not where we are.
I still pray, in my own way, and I still consider myself a patriot; once again, in my own way. Oh, I admit that I like a good fireworks display as much as the next person, but flag-waving and patriotism are two different things. I know I’m a patriot because, unlike the ignoramus who sticks a bumper sticker reading “America - Love it or Leave It” on his car, I still believe that the United States can be a country where common men and women are free to criticize policies they disagree with. I still believe that the United States is a place where everyday people can unite and speak with a voice more powerful than that of big business. I still believe that the United States can be a place where people of every shape, color, creed and ethnicity can band together and call themselves Americans - not because they were born here, but because they share a common vision which values hard work, freedom and diversity.
Why do I still believe in these things? Every indication would seem to prove me wrong. There is a man I despise in the White House, but I still love this country. The U.S. is involved in a war I don’t agree with, but I still pray for our soldiers and for the countless and nameless human beings on both sides who will be affected by the war. There are endless unfair policies that I would fight against, but none that would make me want to leave this country. So what makes me believe? I suppose that my belief in this country is supported by the fact that it’s been done before: The Sons of Liberty and The Daughters of Liberty believed against all odds that they could rid themselves of a ruler who was unresponsive to their needs. They believed that they could replace a government which did not truly represent them, and so do I.
We who criticize and question our government are often accused of being unpatriotic, but let’s not forget that it was Thomas Jefferson who said “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." So this 4th of July, I hope you will join me in being highly patriotic.
And speaking of believing in something against all odds, here's another of my attempts to cast off the shackles of incompetence, my Patriot Bag just in time for the 4th of July: