PATRIOTISM VS. LOVE OF COUNTRY
I loved this post, about the "smartest person in the room syndrome" because it illuminated a lesson I learned even before I reached my teens.
From the time I entered school I was almost always the "smartest person" in the classroom, as rated by standardized tests we were given and eventually serial IQ tests they kept giving me throughout my public education. By the time I reached high school I was faced with more "smartest persons." It didn't take me that long, however, to realize that even a designated "smart person" could be wrong, emphatically and/or empirically wrong, about anything.
I remember specifically, and have told this story to my children many times, the day (I was not quite thirteen years old) I was so sure of something I went out on the limb and asserted my superior knowledge and was subsequently proved wrong. It wasn't a lesson I took lightly. From that day on, my response when challenged was, "I'm really confident -- but I COULD BE WRONG."
My intent was not to hedge my own bets. It was to acknowledge the enormity of information, and the fact that nobody outside of God Almighty could be omniscient.
I've been saying that, almost as a mantra, for almost the past 30 years. I don't feel embarrassed for acknowledging that I am not perfect, that I could make a mistake. In fact, I don't understand or feel aligned with anyone who could make such an assertion. I've spent most of my adult professional career in a mega-company with like-minded people, who could shift resources and reorient strategies to align with current economic realities without letting their little fragile egos intervene to deny ever making a misstep.
That is, MOST of my professional life. For the past few years, under new leadership, my former company has doggedly pursued a set of strategies that have been proven wrong-headed. They continue to pursue the same strategies in the face of monumental adversities, still spinning the "pursue the course" doctrine that is echoed in the Bush administration dogma.
Now that brings me to my real subject, Cindy Sheehan's resignation note.
Like so many who opposed this war, I welcomed the visibility Cindy gave to our position. She had creds just by being the mother of one of our honored dead.
And don't think I take that phrase, "honored dead," lightly just because it's being said by an anti-war activist. As a scion of a long-traditioned military family, I have spent a lifetime trying to explain to my very close family that we who oppose war do not disparage the sacrifice and honor of those men and women who shed their blood for duty to their country. There is no significant outcry in this country against "baby killers" in Iraq today as there was alleged to be during the Vietnam conflict.
What we want is for the country we love, the one we were so proud of when we studied in civics and history classes when we were youths, is to maintain its dedication to the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, our formative documents. When we "criticize our country," we are criticizing INDIVIDUALS AND MOVEMENTS that work against the principles that have stood us in good stead throughout a turbulent world history, and make us a light, not a shadow, to the world.
When, in the Vietnam-era, we were confronted with the slogan, "My country -- love it or leave it!" we responded, "My country -- because I love it!"
Patriotism, by its definition, is a love of land. I know very few commendable Americans who would admit to a love affair with the ground beneath us as compared to their passion for the principles that were the foundation of the state, the government. So we can, ad nauseum, debate who're the greater "patriots." But in my view, they are the ones who want to make us better as a nation and as a people, to protect and extend the protections of the Bill of Rights, to continue our history of gradual improvements for the public good, to make democracy and republicanism a model for the nations of the world.
This was my education as a child. "Weekly Reader" continually pointed out the differences between our freedoms as Americans and the threat poised by the tyrannical Soviet Union practices. It is not naive, I think, to believe that a generation of Americans were educated on those issues, some perhaps concluding that the Vietnam war was in opposition of those very principles, resulting in a painful national debate. So what, I ask, do the Neocons and Bush sycophants demand of us?
The same thing that Nixon did. And if American citizens/voters are not aware of it, I hope to remind at least some of my pals from the old days. They want us to equate the presidential administration with America, so if they do so, we must support it -- otherwise, we're "anti-American."
Hey guys, do you know anyone in your circles who are anti-yourselves (you ARE American)? Or are you just pro-Americans civics studies, that motivated you to love your country and resolve to defend it from all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC????