This I Believe

Deja - Jamestown, New York
Entered on August 28, 2006

I believe in patriotism.

I came to this belief over the course of my childhood. My parents were Hippies, still full of idealism as I grew up. For as long as I can remember, Election Day was something to be celebrated. Time was taken, before work, after, even during, if necessary, to vote. For as long as I can remember, I was brought with, taken into the voting booth. Political discussion was encouraged in my home, my views always considered and discussed with respect, if not agreement.

Patriotism is a word that’s been thrown about, lately. It’s become almost a cliché, a cheesy word that really doesn’t mean anything.

It still means a lot to me. What do I believe it is? I was taught that, first and foremost, true patriotism is difficult. I was taught that patriotism is loving your country, even though you know there are problems. Patriotism is speaking your mind when you disagree with someone, but always being respectful of others’ point of view. Patriotism is working to change the problems you see, working to make the thing you love better, stronger.

There are many ways to show your patriotism. Hanging a flag from your home or car is, certainly, one way. But, it is also shown by voting for the candidate you think is best, regardless of faith, race, or party affiliation. It is holding respectful discussion with others who don’t share your view, not in an attempt to “convert,” but to learn why they believe what they believe. Patriotism is being open-minded, to view issues from a number of angles, the willingness to change your mind with reason.

As I said, I believe that patriotism is difficult.

I also believe that it is the refusal to blindly agree with decisions made by those in power. If you disagree with it, work to change what is happening. Volunteer to work for the candidate you prefer. Write letters and make phone calls to your elected officials, stating your point of view. Work to make this country a better place. But, always do so with respect to those who may not agree with you. Remember that they, like you, are patriots. That they, like you, love this country.

Do I feel there are problems with in this country? Of course, who doesn’t. Would I live in any other country? Not a chance. I love this country, and I am a patriot.

This, I believe.