Patriotism is a commonly heard word, but I wonder how many people give it serious thought. What does the word mean to you? As I considered writing this blog I came to realize that it is not only an important word, it has great depth.
Being a patriot is more than showing respect for a song or a flag because it goes right to the heart of our nation’s character. I’ve given the subject some thought and searched the internet for clarification. This piece is the result. I hope that at least a few readers will give the word’s meaning further consideration.
A person’s patriotism should no more be judged by standing for the National Anthem, then your intelligence should be judged by your entries on Facebook. Those simple criteria say nothing about the person being considered other than his or her legs are functional and they can find and push letters on a keyboard.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary (and most others), patriotism is defined in this manner. “It is the feeling of loving your country more than any others and being proud of it.” To that, I would add that a patriot is involved in helping to ensure an ever-improving quality of life.
I believe that your works, what you do, says a whole lot more than your words. Good citizenship is not only important, it is necessary. Expressing love of country with no subsequent positive action is much like telling your kids you love them but never giving them a hug. Each of us must ask ourselves, “What am I doing that will benefit my fellow citizens and my country. That doesn’t mean you have to do something every day. It simply means that when you look back in future years, you can say, “I did my part.”
A true patriot swears allegiance to something greater than himself or his neighborhood. The true patriot cares about the way we live and about his neighbors and surroundings. Standing up and singing the Star Spangled Banner is nice and honorable but it isn’t a hug.
Dictionary.com says this about citizenship. 1. The state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen. 2. The character of an individual viewed as a member of society; behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen.
That definition suggests that we have a responsibility. That we owe something to society. We are indebted to those who came before us, so like them, we must pay it forward, and there are an almost infinite number of ways to do that. They range from simply voting in every election, to volunteering, raising a family, or serving your community or country in some other way.
The Pledge of Allegiance is a promise of support and a solemn oath that you will be faithful to the country. I like that, but I’d’ like to take an additional step. A step in which we make a commitment, a promise to take some action.
The following thoughts come from the Hippocratic Oath, the paraphrasing is mine.
“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings. May I always act so as to preserve and protect the finest traditions of my country and actively work to ensure that future generations might benefit as I have.”
Sometimes, especially in these divisive times, we are too quick to judge our fellow citizens. We hear their political views and stereotype them. That’s wrong. A person’s character should not be entirely based on what he or she says but rather by the contributions they make and the actions they take. I believe that we are all patriots and while each of us has a different approach, all of us seek the same end.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth