Sullying the Name and Meaning of Patriotism
Seeing USA or an American flag worn proudly emblazoned across someone’s chest, or embroidered on a cap used to make me feel good, and proud to be an American. Today, thanks to the “Make America Great Again” campaign cry, it gives rise to totally different emotions. Fear, disgust, embarrassment, sadness, and sometimes rage.
Like my previously unreconciled, and to some degree unwarranted negative feelings about Christianity, my mind focuses on the many heinous acts being wrought in the name of patriotism and I’m afraid, not just for future generations but those who currently identify with the United States of America. I see a nation dangerously divided by colliding ideologies which threaten to pulverize a foundation which has probably stood on shaky ground longer than I realize. A nation rotting down to its very core. The only glimmer of hope I see are those who are still making an effort to find and disseminate the truth amongst this pack of wolves who are fighting over the same dwindling and disease-ridden piece of meat. They do so at their own personal peril.
Corrupted by Power’s Unholy Grip
History has proven that power drives men mad. The more they have, the more they want, and they reach a point where they’ll stop at nothing to feed their unholy passion. Sadly, the list of casualties is growing, mostly among the innocents. The lust for power is, in my mind, no different than blood magick. It needs to feed on the pain and misery of others to grow stronger.
Personal power builds its foundation out of the bodies of innocents. Some of them, even sacrificing themselves willingly as they’re convinced the cause is right and just. Perhaps those fall harder and lose more in the end.
We have been a proud nation for more than 200 years, and maybe that’s why we’ve been so easy to subvert. After all, pride goes before a fall, right? We’ve seen ourselves as the greatest nation, yet how many of us can actually explain what that means, now, or at any time in the past? Other nations are better educated, have less poverty, better health care, and lower crime rates. Freedoms we consider unique are not only available elsewhere, but are, in all likelihood, better protected than they are here at the moment.
Loving Our Country, Warts and All
I won’t deny we are still a decent place to live, grow, and raise a family, but much of what we take for granted has eroded without our even noticing. In short, we’ve become a nation where passive oblivion is prevalent. Of course, I can’t speak for the circumstances in other countries as I’ve never visited those whose rankings are higher than ours. I know many of the social problems which exist here aren’t unique. How they’re addressed might be, and that’s not necessarily positive.
The trouble is, we’re allowing our patriotism to be fouled, and waving our flag is causing laughter and derision rather than respect. Where once we were counted on by those who needed help, I feel like the same ones who once took advantage of our philanthropy have become vultures circling our slowly dying carcass.
What makes a country great, when all is said and done? I think it’s the people working together to build something strong and resilient, but most of all, compassionate. The compassion is the mortar which binds the bricks together. It makes us one with each other rather than a bunch of islands floating on an unforgiving, storm-tossed sea. It helps those who are struggling so they can once again become an active part of the community.
Yes, We’re Broken, But Can We Fix Ourselves Before It’s Too Late?
In that regard, we’re broken, and our patriotic cries are little more than idle chatter mixed with bravado. People are dying every day from neglect, abuse, and downright hate. We live in neighborhoods where we don’t know most of our neighbors, and when new people move in, they are already hard-wired to self-isolate. It takes a major trauma to bring us together and believe me, the last two aren’t something I want to see repeated any time soon. Their positive effects wore off soon enough anyway.
You might think if you’ve read this far that I’ve given up all hope for our nation to come back together; to work as a team; to be a great, productive, compassionate community again. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I see people doing amazing things, and despite the derogatory comments made about this generation or that, those positive, uplifting acts know no age barriers.
Creating Artificial Segregation
Someone recently pointed out that the names given to various generations are meaningless anyway, and solely for the purpose of market research (thus the advertising industry and media put us in yet another choke hold). I tend to agree. I’ve been hearing complaints blaming one generation or another most of my life, and I have to cry bullshit.
There’s simply no justification for attributing a particular type of behavior to an entire group of people born within a given span of years. We are unique individuals who’ve grown up with our own cross-section of stimuli. Even two people raised in the same household, heck, even twins will respond to the stimuli differently and grow up with different values and expectations.
My own twin daughters are as different as it’s possible for two people to be. One is socially conscious to a fault, loving, giving, and compassionate. She takes responsibility for her actions, sometimes excessively, and finds pleasure in giving back. The other is, in a word, entitled. She believes the world owes her, that I am responsible for all the trials and tribulations in her life, and uses anger, venom, and manipulation to get what she wants. The first is by far the stronger of the two, though growing up, it seemed like she was the weaker, the more compliant. In truth the deep-seated anger in my youngest daughter hides a very soft, frightened little girl who is, much like I used to be, afraid to let people see she’s not as strong as she wants them to believe.
Disengaging Our Emotions So We Respond Instead of Reacting
My own experiences have taught me to step back as much as possible when confronted by anger, hate, or worse, the deep depressive sadness of those who’ve given up hope. I’m learning to listen carefully, not only to the words, but to the emotions so I can try to understand what has led them to their emotionally charged and often logic-less beliefs in the first place. Why do they distrust a certain cultural or religious group who’s done nothing to deserve that distrust. Why do they, in fact, lump everyone in that group together instead of realizing they’re individuals with their own unique set of beliefs, qualities, and faults?
Where is the truth embedded in a series of emotionally charged lies and half-truths, and why are we being encouraged to jump on one emotional runaway train after another these days? Our reality has gotten so painful, I find I can’t even watch some of the TV shows I used to any more. I recently deleted shows like NCIS and Major Crimes from my DVR after trying to watch one episode, and shutting it off halfway as it made me feel so sick.
Making the Choice to Create a Compassionate World
What kind of world are we creating? What kind of nation are we living in where reality is harder to take than fiction? Where we escape into thrill-based fiction to make our reality seem less ugly. And why do symbols of patriotism; once a source of pride and gratitude now make me feel somehow soiled and embarrassed?
It seems I need to spend more time watching and reading stories about people who are taking steps to make things better instead of accepting the reality or joining marches. If you ask me, all of the “little guys and gals” who are quietly doing things to improve morale or living conditions, or building communities are the ones who will turn the tide and make patriotism meaningful again. They’re the ones who will wash out the stains, mend the tears, and create what we once were and can be again; strong, resilient, and compassionate. “With Liberty and Justice for All” with no exceptions.
Finding Gratitude No Matter What
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful I can still speak my mind, even when it’s unpopular. Mine might not bring hate-filled messages like some who are standing up for inequities, but each voice for positive change matters.
- I am grateful for the insights I receive from seemingly innocuous stimuli.
- I am grateful for quiet days spent writing and thinking.
- I am grateful for a career which allows me to decide how I’m going to spend my day, and allows for a few side trips and distractions along the way.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, harmony, compassion, freedom, productivity, opportunities, incentives, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Watch my Facebook Live about Patriotism.
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.