A word can mean many different things to many people. As we are fortunate enough to have a long life and have the opportunity to experience this simple truth, it becomes more and more obvious. More often than not, a word’s meaning never changes or expands in significance for most folks. But there are some words that are so significant and relevant to our existence, the meaning should always grow, expand, become more comprehensive.
The word ‘Patriotism’ is one of them. And, I don’t just mean a simple-minded zeal for whatever someone else is saying or trying to motivate us with platitudes. I mean, the whole idea of being aware of as much of the implications, responsibilities, history (good and bad – right and wrong – virtuous and contemptible) and still understand the virtues of its meaning and ultimate intentions.
Perhaps the almighty object is only something a person can begin to comprehend with age. Perhaps not. Yet, it is worthwhile to put it out there anyway; and, with the hopes that those yet so young will find value in it.
Patriotism can be more defined by what it is not. It is not a blind loyalty to a government, a monarchy, a religion, a geography, or an insecure dependency we feebly call ‘Patriotism’. To assume these are the reasons to which one is unwaveringly devoted is something else. Call it something else. It is not Patriotism… especially not in today’s world.
The human struggle, in time immemorial, for a preamble, a manifested ideology, a structure based upon the dignity and liberty of the individual, is, and remains, the inner aspiration and hope of our species. Along the way, these efforts have had their day, their opportunities; yet, they have failed. The failure was not in the original intentions. Rather, in the ineptitude of the human. And, this ineptitude was not only in those who lead but in those whom they lead.
In the depth of human insight, hindsight, reflection and serious academics the leadership of societies are no more and no less a reflection of the major populous of the society. As we look for blame for all of what we see as the faults of our societies we are confronted with a very ancient and raw truth… ”we have met the enemy and he is us”.
Now that this ‘Jaw Wagger’ has briefly ranted upon what a ‘patriot’ is not, enjoy this ranting upon what a ‘patriot’ is. Of course, it has its roots planted deeply in the principles of a ‘design of mind’ by which every human creature has the inalienable right to life, liberty, and acknowledged dignity by those whom the individual lives among. To this basic principle of life are the inseparable obligations of responsibility and accountability for all who live within this collective, wherever they may live.
Anyone who has ventured into the world knows how diverse and complex our many nations and cultures are. How, then, could any person assume that ‘one size fits all’, one preamble and structure of liberty would have the details acceptable and workable for billions of humans on this small and complex planet?
I, for one, live in a nation with a wise and farsighted Constitution and Bill of Rights. This is a product of hindsight as much as foresight. These men knew, very well, the tyranny of the ‘old world’, its aristocratic arrogance, religious arrogance and persecutions, its elite powers over the masses. With this personal experience, very literate and knowledgeable minds conceived a ‘preamble’, a structured document based upon the principles of defending the individual’s dignity; and, allowing for the rational progression to achieving these principles, as they were in a time and place that also contradicted these principles.
To this Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, I am a Patriot. It is a ‘Patriotism of Principle’. To this, I am unwavering, regardless of what a ‘government’ becomes or what indoctrinations have transpired through the instruments of education or the selfishness of the weak-minded and low of character.
And, it is not for me, or for anyone, to assume there is only one path by which the ‘principles‘ of human dignity are acknowledged and defended. Every nation and culture will find its own way to this timeless ambition of the human spirit.
Yet, it is for me, and all who have this conviction of human dignity, to be a Patriot for all nations and cultures who pursue these ultimate virtues. In this aspiration is also the acknowledgment of the human character, which will be both its advantage and its demise. Time will tell.