I believe that dissent and patriotism can go hand in hand.
My family has members whose beliefs span the political spectrum. I have an uncle who believes everything conservative is the only way. At the other end, my older brother is the consummate liberal. We have had some interesting family dinners, and the issue of patriotism has been a hot topic. Whenever I saw my brother, we had lengthy political debates. He would ramble on about how the current state of affairs in our country is in trouble and that our foreign policy is a disgrace. I thought of myself as the patriot; support the troops and dissent is bad. I would call him anti-American and that his kind hurts our great country. He would counter that by declaring dissent to be a form of patriotism, adding that dissenters formed our country. I was skeptical, believing that the status quo is what we should follow, and that dissent shows anti-patriotic sentiment.
Now I understand. He was right; our country, the great US of A, was formed through dissent. I found myself disagreeing with some of the decisions in this country, but I refused to believe that I was not a patriot. I realized I could easily not be supportive of the current administration, yet still be in full support of our country. Anyone can proudly say, “I do not support our new policies” and still be a full-blown patriot that loves this country. My brother is one of those people. He believes this is the best country in the world and he would not live anywhere else, and he still is anti-war, anti-Bush, and almost anti-Republican. Despite his partisan views, I never question his patriotism anymore. In fact, I believe that I was the unpatriotic one because I didn’t question the status quo. I did not realize the value of dissent, a part of the fiber that has woven this great country. I believe in dissent, because it is American.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.