When I get up in the mornings and I’m not sure what I want to write about I check a number of sources that have daily prompts. One of today’s prompts was ‘Are you patriotic? What does that mean to you?’
In the light of the rant I went on yesterday, I figured this would be an easy follow up.
The word patriot is filled with all sorts of connotations, many of them negative in the current political climate. Right now it sometimes feels like a patriot is one of those deplorable idiots that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Like you’re either woke or a patriot. That you can’t be both.
It’s disgusting and disheartening.
I served on active duty during the first Gulf War and through much of the 1990’s. After a brief time away, I went back to work as a public servant and have been doing so for more than 25 years.
My duties have varied throughout the years, but I have never once forgotten that I serve the public. All of it. Every single individual who lives in this country, legal or otherwise, as well as those who are citizens that live abroad.
I don’t just serve citizens or white folx or cis-het folx or any one group over another, regardless of how many politicians try to say otherwise.
I am not a nationalist who thinks our country is better than others. I am not an unthinking, unquestioning loyalist to some demagogue or to a single party. Nor am I blind to the reality of what our system and government are actually like.
I know that our system is inherently flawed. Some agencies are merely skewed to help some more than others, while there are others with bold and blatant rules and laws that specifically enable the rich.
No matter what I intend or how I want to see my job as it should be, I know it doesn’t mean much most of the time, but I do it with as much integrity as I have in my soul.
Despite how naïve this may sound, I really do believe that this country could be a safe place where everyone is welcome. That this really could be true someday. It’s part of the reason why I continue to serve, why I vote, why I financially support those groups fighting those that would oppress others, why I use my privilege to speak out and live my life as authentically as I can.
I believe that the ideal of being free to be who we really are is a worthy one and this is what makes me patriotic.
One thought on “Patriot”
I went to college the first time to study history, and what I can see about the current views on patriotism is this:
Our country confuses patriotism and nationalism. And yes, there is a difference. Patriotism is what makes Ukraine continue to fight the Russian invasion. It is a sense of being proud of your home and wanting to defend her against enemies (why are all countries given female pronouns?) Nationalism lead to the Nazi’s taking over Germany (even though they continuously could not get a majority vote). Nationalism leads to betraying neighbors in order to earn brownie points with the gestapo in the hopes that when the military advances that you’re safe. Nationalism leads to wanting to make everyone bend a knee to your way of thinking and if they don’t they’re wrong and worthy to be forced out or killed.
I know when a certain president came to power a lot of nationalists began calling people who protested “unpatriotic” when in fact the protestors were doing the most patriotic thing or constitution allows- freedom to dissent, freedom to gather, freedom to change what’s fucked up in our nation.
There was a famous TV show clip that went around about a newscaster who was asked “what makes America great” and he flippant said “the new York jets” and the host held him to it and said “no, I want an actual answer” so the newscaster goes on a rant about how terrible the US is- last in health care, last in education, highest in poverty, highest in incarcerated individuals. But then he goes on to say “what makes America great is that we can change it”
Patriots want to change what’s fucked up. Nationalists demand we stay the same.
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