Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Patriotism is not a contest:

4thjulyiconAll too often when events like going to war, 9-11, holidays, or controversial issues like school prayer or flag burning comes to the front of the national stage, Patriotism all of a sudden becomes a “contest”. A chest thumping, foot stomping, in your face, holier than thou, "if you disagree with me you must not be patriotic", contest.

Unfortunately, as the extremist churn out their one-sided messages many of us get caught up in the ‘Patriotism as a contest syndrome’, falling in line behind over-simplified slogans and catchphrases that galvanize us more to that slogan’s single issue than to our real, more well-rounded beliefs. This ‘patriotism as a contest syndrome’ only serves to divide us and prevent us from having educated discussions, solutions, or compromise.  This form of “sunshine patriotism” is just as damaging now as it was during the early days of our American Revolution.

imageA common argument that is put forth by the extremist, and picked up by the moderates, is that soldiers served, fought, or died for the right to protest as if this meant that protesters were doing a disservice to those soldiers. This is a prime example of single-issue rhetoric being used to distort the argument. Yes, soldiers served, fought, or died for the anti-war protestors right to demonstrate, and the pro-war protesters right to demonstrate, and for all our rights, the right to vote, and the right to bear arms, the right to representation, and many more rights.  Not all soldiers who have served were of a single mind, political belief or religious persuasion.  Many were not volunteers and some served reluctantly.

        Because they served, fought, or died for our rights, those rights are now our responsibilities. We have a responsibility to vote, to bear arms in times of conflict, to participate in the process of representation. We also have a responsibility to exercise our freedom of speech in its many forms and when our conscience dictates that we must speak out for or against something, it is our responsibility to do so. These rights and responsibilities are not limited to those who only fall on a certain side of an issue.

When the framers of the constitution defined some of these rights, they could not foresee what the future might hold for these rights and responsibilities. They could not have seen the developments in firearms that would make assault weapons capable of discharging hundreds of rounds a minute, nor could they foresee technological advances that would make pornography so easily available. When they framed the Constitution, however, they were aware of the potentially deadly and criminal use of firearms, and pornography did exist in their times.

Well aware of potential abuse or misuse of our many rights, they saw these rights as inalienable, and they weighed these inalienable rights against the consequences and defined those consequences as tyranny.

They included the rights to free speech and assembly knowing full well that it could lead to criticism of the government. They included them because they had seen and exercised these rights in their fight for freedom by a demonstration against the government through speech, flag burning, demonstration, and armed insurrection and through prayer to their god. They spoke for the separation of church and state not because they were atheist or unreligious, but because they were religious men and had seen first hand the evils of allowing one to influence the other.

They chose the acknowledgment of these inalienable rights over the choice of tyranny because the extreme use of one is favorable over the slightest existence of the other. When we disagree with the actions or anticipated decisions of our government, it is our obligation as a matter of conscience to express that disagreement; it is our right and responsibility. Legal discord and assembly are as American as apple pie. 

‘Patriotism as a contest’ is a despicable display of ignorance and disrespect for our constitution and those who died for it. Patriotism is not flag waving and chest beating and shouting down those who disagree with us. Patriotism is the defense and preservation of our Constitution and should be preceded by service, civic involvement, and conviction to our responsibilities and our neighbor’s rights. The willingness to defend to the death the rights of our neighbors in spite of our differences, that is an example of Patriotism


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