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The Optimistic Cynic's Guide to Patriotism....

With Independence Day looming, I was suddenly struck by the fact that I had never really contemplated what it meant to be patriotic and what it meant to have freedom.

It's difficult to put our liberties, which so many of us take as inherent and automatically assured, into perspective when we've never had to face a life without them.

As it is so easy to assume that we are protected from life's indignities because of our freedom, I am compelled to wonder what would happen if our protection was suddenly taken from us. Though, I don't mean in the same fashion as 9/11 (which was a horrific tragedy that I hope never repeats), no, I mean in a complete form-- that EVERY freedom we have was suddenly stripped from us, that EVERY liberty (which we assume is our birth-right because someone died to secure it before we were even born) was suddenly erased.

So many times I cringe when I read the latest headlines-- coercion, political tyranny, corruption, not to mention the blatant disregard to simple human dignities. The bubble that is the American society can easily blind the inhabitants to everything that happens outside of it (and even sometimes to what happens within it).

But, the horrors of the world don't go away just because we believe it's our right to be protected from them.

Yet, can we really blame the bubble inhabitants for their blissful ignorance? It's hard to appreciate the benefit of something as wonderful as freedom when you don't know what it cost and when you didn't have to pay the bill...when you don't know how easily it can be repossessed.

Never having to fight for the basic right to live and exist without someone else's thumb pressing their intent on you. Never having to wonder if your disagreement with a popular opinion might be just cause for execution. Never having to worry whether the words you've spoken might be just cause for your family's imprisonment. Never having to hide what you are because your obvious rebellion would need to be beaten out of you.

I don't believe that being an American means we are automatically better. I don't believe that being a patriot means that we are automatically immune. I don't believe that the cost of freedom should ever be forgotten. But, I don't believe freedom should have to be fought for in the first place.

I don't believe that the oceans and languages and cultures that separate us should keep us apart. I don't believe that one side of the world is better than the other side of the world. I don't believe that one religion, race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation is better than any other.

I don't believe there is enough difference among the world's people for us to be called anything, but human.


  1. a thought provoking post. This is my first July 4 as a citizen. If I have time I may blog about it. However America does seem to have lost its way a bit, maybe

  2. mshatch--Thanks!

    David-- Happy first 4th! And, yes, I'm afraid we lost our a long time ago.... :-(


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