A Patriotic/Unpatriotic Fourth of July (Depending Upon Who You Ask)
What if we took someone else's choice not as a personal attack on our own beliefs, but exactly as it is... someone else's choice?
The morning of Independence day as I paged through my closet, I pulled out and donned a black shirt with a hint of red. I hadn't planned it. I simply chose what felt right. Recognizing the lack of what we think of as "patriotic" attire, the meaning of patriotism drifted to the forefront of my thoughts.
What truly is patriotism? And is our interpretation of it leading to further judgement or love of others?
I could have repressed the feelings of injustice and lack of equality demonstrated by the recent Supreme Court rulings. I could have stifled this discomfort and gotten us all festive for the sake of appearances. But frankly, I'm done doing things just to appease others that don't feel right to my heart and soul. There are many times in life when our existence functions in duality, and this was one of them. Instead of allowing guilt to arise at not celebrating as a a "good American" should, we chose to recognize that two things could both be true simultaneously.
1) I could be grateful to live where we choose to live, in a place where we're able to live with so many needs met and luxuries enjoyed. I could be deeply thankful for those who fought for this to be our reality and those who step up to ensure it stays this way. I could be proud of the hard-working, loving families we came from and the land on which we were raised.
2) I could be disappointed, saddened, and downright angry about the choices those who swore to uphold the highest representation of the American people are making... choices that reduce the amount of freedom for the majority of citizens. I could be frustrated that a group of individuals feel the need to impose their beliefs on all American people, even when those beliefs contradict the foundation on which this country was built upon.
The definition of patriotic is "having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one's country."
Patriotism doesn't always look like dressing kiddos in their stars and stripes, drinking beers while grilling, and blasting fireworks. Sometimes it's the sharing of truths that those close to you may not see eye-to-eye with. Sometimes its loving the people of this country so fully that it hurts to feel entire groups of people abused, mistreated, or oppressed. Sometimes it's setting aside the facade and optics to mourn the deaths of those who've had no say in the laws governing them.
As Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams in March of 1776,
I long to hear that you have declared an independency -- and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
Let me share her sentiments again...
"We will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or representation."
This country was built upon freedom from oppression, religious oppression at that. While the Bible may be interpreted for the good of those who wish to use it as a weapon of control and obedience, the First Amendment of the Constitution itself prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This means it is against the constitution to favor one religion over any other, and forbids the government from establishing an official religion.
I fully support any Christian family and friends in the living out of their religious beliefs, just as I support those of all faiths and spiritual beliefs. However, it is unconstitutional to insist that all citizens of the United States abide by them.
We must rise above. We must recognize when our raisings and limited experience of the world is causing more judgement and condemnation than love and acceptance. We must realize that as a country, we still have far to grow in terms of equality and honoring one another for who the beautiful souls they are. We must use empathy and education (beyond that which only agrees with our viewpoint) to further our knowledge and then use that knowledge not to condemn, but to love our fellow Americans as ourselves.
And that, my friends, I believe to be the greatest example of living patriotically.
Do you agree? Or have an additional perspective to share?