Friday, July 11, 2008

Citizens, Critics, Patriotism

Written 22 April

Today, thousands of young men and women will raise their right hands and volunteer to serve their country. Some of them will do so to satisfy an indescribable patriotic desire to serve their country.

Today, someone else will feel it’s their patriotic duty to tell you about the problems among 1% of those who raised their right hands.

Today, over 140,000 troops will fight against terrorists in Iraq, and perform their duties expertly. A few of them will even perform feats of heroism so extraordinary that many of us will stand in awe when we hear of their service, and truly be thankful.

But today, someone else will tell you about the one troop who made a mistake and is rightfully being charged with a crime.

Today, while terrorists are plotting their next attack against us, hundreds of special operations forces and intelligence personnel are moving against them. The nature of their task means we will never know the safety they’ve brought all of us.

But today, someone else will try to convince us that aggressively eliminating those who are determined to kill all of us makes us less safe than we were before.

Today in America, 95% of the people have a job.

But today someone is going to portray the 5% who don’t as the majority, not the minority.

Today in America, millions of people will pursue the American dream, praying their hard work will earn them a better life for now and the future. All of them are more than capable of, and are making good decisions which will benefit them, their families, and their communities.

But today in America, an elitist who has made a fortune in our system of democracy and capitalism will attack that very system and work to change it. He will demand that the millions now surrender larger and larger portions of their earnings, thereby stopping them from succeeding as he did. He and his fellow elitists can then redistribute everyone else’s wealth via government programs which only they are smart enough to direct.

Today, some believe Americans don’t voluntarily donate enough and that the United States should be responsible for reducing world poverty. So they’re pushing legislation which requires redistribution of a portion of every American’s income as welfare to the rest of the world.

But today, others who understand the viability and valuable combination of democracy and capitalism are working for more of those ideas throughout the world as the means to fight poverty. The combination of the two worked for us, it’s working for others, and it can work for all.

Today, many Americans will buy a gun. They will buy a gun for hunting, for self defense, for recreational shooting, or because they understand that an armed citizenry is a check against ultimate government over-reach.

But today, others will criticize them, believing they buy guns because they’re economically frustrated and not smart enough to deal with or decipher their own feelings.

Today in America, many will surrender their life to the calling of God and embrace religion. They will do so because they understand their lives are controlled first and foremost by God and then by their own decisions.

But today, others who want to control their lives through government institutions will attack them, frustrated because the power of religion impedes their power to control through government, believing these people cling to religion out of economic frustration and incapacity to decipher their own feelings.

Today, millions of Americans will fly a flag at home, pray, volunteer to serve their local communities, give to charity organizations, serve in the military, or simply go to work and love their families fully living out their freedoms and exercising all the rights they’ve been given. Their actions may or may not be overt, but they will symbolize the greatness of this country. Some may even purposefully proclaim America’s greatness.

These millions will stand in stark contrast to those who can only find it in themselves to constantly attack and criticize America. Sure, the undying critics can claim the patriotic necessity to do so, but their brand of patriotism will contrast sharply to that of the millions which demonstrates the greatness of this country, not its flaws.

The incessant critics will demand others acknowledge their patriotic acts of criticism, yet will denounce the patriotic acts of others, proclaiming the old adage about patriotism being the last refuge of a tyrant. And in doing so, will demonstrate it is they themselves who possess the tyrannical attitudes, not the millions.

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