Saturday, October 6, 2007

More On Patriotism

The news of the last week caused an explosion of discussions about patriotism. Here we have another one that hits another angle I haven't mentioned yet:
The "dissent" school seems to acknowledge love not of the actual country, but the Country of the Future, once all the flaws are fixed, which is not only utopian but utterly quixotic, since no group of human beings can ever organize themselves in a fashion without problems.

I agree completely. It is evident that many 'patriotic dissenters' don't actually have any love for our country as it is but instead make evident a love for the country as it would be were their pet changes were established or as it was in some never-was imagining of our past.

On the one hand, we have individuals (primarily liberals/progressives) that look at the United States like a naughty child who's potential is amazing if only he'd change behavior along the lines of whatever pet project floats their boat. America would be great if we had 'free' health care for everyone. America would be great if it obeyed the international community. America would be great if it wasn't the most racist country in the world, etc.

On the other hand you have individuals (often conservatives in this case) who would love this country if only it hadn't sold out that one major principle they have decided represents America's greatness. If only America hadn't instituted the income tax. If only America hadn't become such a police state (and we haven't... if anything our freedom regarding law enforcement is more transparent and free than any time in our history). If only we still cared about babies and children. If only we didn't police the world like some arrogant drunkard, etc.

The problem with both world views is that they are based in fantasy and don't in any way represent what patriotism actually is. In my mind, patriotism is more like familial love than any political statement. This is my country. I love her. I will always love her. Nothing she can do can make me root against her. It is an emotion, not a reasoned position. If we as a nation decide to institute national healthcare, I will find it abhorrent but I will still love her. If we as a nation decided to make peace with the terrorists and abandoned Iraq to them, I'd still love her. I'd love her like a drunk uncle in prison, but I'd love her. And I'd do anything to make things better.

What I would never and have never done is wish any ill upon her. In the case of national healthcare, I would hope that it was fiscally and socially beneficial. I could hope no other thing. I wouldn't antagonize for its miserable failure so I could win a political argument. My patriotism is greater than any opinion I may hold. We all wish this country was different in some way but you don't live your life with the country you want, you live with the country you have.

So, are you a patriot? Well, complete this thought experiment: If you were suddenly transported to 1860 and now lived in a nation rife with slavery, would you still love that country as it was?

I would.

Update: Christopher Taylor is smarter than me and a better person. Read this and try to metaphorically scrub my post out of your mind. You'll be glad you did.

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