Reflection on Patriotism

Last night I had one of those conversations concerning a topic most families dread: politics. My aunt and uncle had been visiting for a few days, and we managed to make it the entire visit without one of our discussions that begin constructively and eventually end up transforming into an argument. Until right before they were heading to bed, that is. Because of course that’s how it would go.

The main issue I took with one of their opinions was their sense of blind loyalty to the president. The conversation had nothing to do with party; they don’t like our current “leader” and my uncle even referred to him as an idiot. However, in the words of my uncle, they “respect the position” and thus feel they have to respect the holder of that title.

“He’s our president,” they said.

That’s bullshit, I thought. And told them as much.

Personally, I don’t consider the blind leading the blind to have anything to do with patriotism. I explained to my relatives that there is nothing wrong with questioning the motives and actions of a person in power, or of anyone for that matter.

“I don’t respect him because he’s a disgrace to that office and what a president should be.” I applied the same thought to many of the members in our government who encourage or support his actions. My uncle didn’t have a comeback.

People are people. Remove the titles, labels, generalizations – we are people. All flawed in one way or another, all capable of bad or good, and just because you hold a certain position does not mean that you automatically gain respect or loyalty. For the most part, those are earned. Or, if they are initially given, they can be taken away if you prove to be someone undeserving of those qualities. If you have shown yourself to be inadequate in that position, especially to the harm of others, then opposition should come as no surprise.

On this 4th of July, I sat in the backyard where I could see some of the firework production the nearby community college puts together annually. I snapped some photos, conversed with a couple of family members, and kept thinking about the following quote I came across a few hours earlier:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Resist, persist, and object.

Happy Independence Day.

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