Sunday, July 6, 2008
America the Beautiful
"A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle."
George William Curtis
I'm fed up. I know that in today's climate of rabid political correctness, it is supposed to be unseemly to be proud of America. As though my pride in my country is somehow a condemnation of someone else's. I have decided that those who think that way are wrong. I've had it. I'm tired of being expected to feel like I'm personally responsible for all the bad things that ever happened in the history of my nation. I utterly reject the notion that I should be ashamed of my country, of its actions or of its philosophies or of its history. I'm not. I am very proud of this country, and I am proud to be called an American. It is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. It is the longest running, most successful democracy in the history of the world. It was founded on Christian principles, and built by good and honorable men. I am not ashamed. It offers more freedom and opportunity to more people from more walks of life than any other, and is the birthplace of the self-made man as a breed, rather than an anomoly. I am not ashamed. We have fought many wars, but none in conquest. We have claimed NO LAND, but that in which to bury the dead who fell there. We have been fierce warriors and generous victors. Half the world owes its present affluence and stability to us. I am not ashamed. My love of my country and my fierce loyalty to it are not character flaws. Pity the country whose citizens regard her with shame for she will not long stand.
"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."
Adlai E. Stevenson
It's not that I feel like people shouldn't be allowed to criticize the government. On the contrary, that is our Costitutional right and civic duty. I just think people need to learn to state their opinions respectfully. I know there are plenty of people out there who don't agree with me, but there are plenty of people who do, and we need to start making ourselves known.
I was asked a couple of questions recently and I'm going to share my answers. Be forewarned that I have not gentled them.
Should the war in Iraq be called off?
I find the assumption behind this question to be the real problem. Call it off?! Like it's all in our hands? Like we don't have an enemy who's going to continue to harm us regardless of whether we're fighting back or not? This is the question of someone who's never really had to fight for anything, and thus has no appreciation for or, indeed, any understanding of what a loss would mean. We stay. We fight. We finish. Or we die. It really is that simple. This is a matter of live or die because that's how our enemy is playing it. They have dictated those terms. Their goal is our complete annihilation. THEY WANT US DEAD. There is no middle groud between dead and not dead, so compromise is not really an option. Bush has a lot of flaws, but I am beyond grateful that seeing this war for what it is is not among them.
"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
John Stuart Mill
Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?
I would not. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I do not relegate the flag to the category of a meaningless scrap of fabric. It isn't. It is a symbol of everything America and her people have gone through to give you the freedoms you take for granted. I owe my respect to that symbol. The flag represents every person who ever died for this country and the principles and honor that made that sacrifice worth it to them, and it infuriates me to no end to see people in my own country who are so contemptuous of those sacrifices. When you spit on it, or burn it,or walk on it, or hang it upside down in protest, you are doing the same to those great people and you are unworthy of being called an American.
As a sort of answer to my friend Beth's assertion that Americans think we're something special because we won independence, I'd like to ask why we should pretend our independence isn't as worthy of celebrating as anyone else's? It's true, we don't celebrate the independence days of other countries, and in many cases aren't even particularly aware of them. But by that same token, we don't expect them to be aware and celebrate ours, either.
I leave you with this:
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
Our country is based on these basic principles. It's time to get back to them.