Monday, November 14, 2011

Can Liberals be Patriots?

Before tackling this week's title question, I ask another, totally unrelated. If you were in the top ten of your profession in the whole world, should you be famous, or at the very least well-paid for your expertise or skills? I ask because our oldest son Zack is traveling to Italy next month to determine in competition the world's best Ferrari mechanic, with ten competitors from dealerships all over the world, I guess. I'm not sure how he got the nod as one of the top ten, but of course we wish him the best. He's been there before, but this time he gets to take Brooke, his wife. As I've said in wonder many times, I don't know where his abilities come from, but I have no doubt they are NOT from me. Good luck to him. We hope he is compensated according to his abilities, which is no more than fair.

I attended a program last week honoring veterans for their service to our country. Veterans SHOULD be honored, and the nation's promises to them should be kept. The program included music, presentations and a speech or two. You could have found similar events all over the country.
These events are not overtly political, but I can't help noticing certain things. No one questions the rightness of our various military ventures, their monetary or human cost, nor the decisions which led up to the battles themselves. There's always the mention of "protecting our liberties", as though war was simply the only choice, and there was no doubt that the liberties would otherwise have been lost, no matter how large or small the enemy forces were.
I suppose the average person, if posed this week's title question would probably answer "Yes". But if I hear someone described as a "patriot", I start to fear the worst. My antennae go up as I try to determine where this person stands, especially on certain current issues. Do all patriots want to launch another preemptive attack, this one on Iran? Do they all favor our use of the latest euphemism for "torture"? Are they all ready to defer to what generals, who are always said to be "on the ground", want to do? Must a patriot be blind to war's effects on families, on the mental health of the vets themselves, or to how wars change our nation's standing with the countries who are supposed to be our allies?
And the patriot thing isn't limited to foreign affairs, nor even to things of any real importance. Today I received in the mail one of those letters, always written in short, breathless paragraphs, warning about the coming evil. This time it was the possibility of deleting "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Nothing about the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the ill or the suffering. Is this group collecting money? Absolutely. What, after all, could possibly be worse than such a change? Haven't we all known people who became devout Christians by repeating the words "under God" as a religious sacrament?
Do all patriots have to welcome government involvement in preventing (and prosecuting) abortion? What must a patriot feel about things like flag abuse, declared by courts to be legal, however objectionable? Must patriots favor reducing those eligible to vote if they don't have the proper ID? Must they all favor tax cuts for the rich, private health insurance only, and government restriction of risque video or reading material?
Sure, it's easy to express love for my country, and want it to succeed, but must other countries fail if they don't strictly adhere to the US model? Must I oppose left-of-center protest as UNpatriotic, and urge unity even if it means one more class warfare victory for those who've already been the winners for so long? When I read scriptures talking about the rampant sins of the last days, is there nothing good from these times worth retaining?
I keep thinking about these things. Like Jesus, I may not be enough of a nationalist to be considered a patriot. And if it means endorsing social injustice and never-ending war, then it may be I just don't make the grade.


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