On this, the Fourth of July, both Barack Obama and John McCain give us their own meanings of patriotism, courtesy of Time magazine. For Obama, patriotism is celebrating this nation’s strong and varied convictions and beliefs” and that the “love and defense of these ideals” makes us a stronger country.
McCain believes patriotism is “a love and a duty, a love of country expressed in good citizenship.” We Americans, he says, are “heirs and caretakers of freedom” and it is our duty to always defend these liberties. You would hope that each candidate actually wrote these statements by hand, but you know for sure they have been penned by staff speechwriters, after the points have been cleared by some focus groups. But no matter. Yahoo! News made it a point to list each response as a separate news listing yesterday, amid all the Fourth of July BBQ tips and party ideas. Obama says this; McCain says this; you say “Tom-ah-to”, I say “Tom-a-to”. Meaning: who cares anyways?
Well, we should care because there are some core values that I’d think we as Americans could rally around on this day. It’s not about a simple flag pin that you put on to show your loyalty to this country, as this Administration has hammered us over the head with. It’s about recognizing that we all do have some responsibilities to make this country better and stronger. And it’s about coming together as a people, divided and diverse as we are. Here are my meanings of patriotism:
- Being an informed citizen, knowing what is happening locally, nationally and globally and always being vigilant of what is being told to you in the media.
- Never discriminating against anyone, no matter what race, creed, color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Recognizing the privilege of voting
- Raising children responsibly and to be well-informed and inquisitive citizens that give back to the communities they come from, no matter what kind of family unit you represent
- Having more than a passing knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Gettysburg Address
- Knowing and constantly sustaining the history of the civil rights movement in America
- Taking the time to appreciate the language and culture of another country, perhaps by visiting that country. You’d gain a new perspective and better appreciate what you have here
- Respecting that people have differences and that these differences are what will ultimately strengthen us as a nation
- Understanding that the ideal of equality, what the Founding Fathers always wanted, is still a goal that we have yet to achieve
- Supporting those among us who decide to sacrifice their lives in service of others —and in defending our freedoms, even if we may disagree with the mission they are pursuing.
- Respecting our country means also helping to save our environment
- Finding the time to volunteer to appreciate what being selfless means.
- Taking the time to enjoy simple and gentle pleasures.