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What is the litmus test for patriotism?

Updated: May 3, 2020

I think with everything that has transpired over the past couple of weeks, the fundamental question that everyone needs to answer is "What is the litmus test for patriotism?" You probably could ask five people around you and get ten different answers! The tragedy with being an American is that we only tend to look through the lens of patriotism when we are trying to codify and weight the patriotic actions of other Americans.

Think of patriotism like a telescope, when you look through it on one side, it magnifies and provides clarity and importance, but if you turn it around and look at it from the other side, everything becomes small, indistinguishable and irrelevant.

This is the current state of affairs in the country. One side is looking at the other and saying that taking a knee is unpatriotic, while the other side is saying it is unpatriotic to tell me I can't take a knee. What's important to realize is that both sides are expressing their own form of patriotism. So who is right?

In my opinion, they both are, and to be honest, there are probably hundreds of other examples that could be used to express one's patriotism. The dictionary defines patriotism as, "vigorous support for one's country", or "love for or devotion to one's country." Notice how, it doesn't say, "Patriotism means, standing for the national anthem?"

If standing for the national anthem is going to be our litmus test, then what do we call our men and women serving in the military? Are we to classify them in the same category as a patron who stands for a few minutes to the national anthem before a sports game, whereby they will spend very little time thinking about the country? As a country, we have to be willing to accept that our patriotism may be expressed in many different ways. Our country allows us to protest, it allows us to speak our minds, and it allows us to point out the things that need fixing. I would argue, those that seize on those opportunities are as patriotic as they get, because if we love our country, we won't stand idly by while it slow degrades.

Nobody wants to be forced to love their country if it isn't worth loving. There are plenty of examples of this currently in the world where people can't express themselves, but America isn't one of them. In a relationship, if you want to take the fast track to a breakup, divorce, or separation try avoiding the problems in your relationship. Stay quiet when things bother you, avoid conflict at all cost, "pretend" that you're happy when you're not, and say "I love you" when you don't really mean it. I don't have to be a marriage counselor to tell you that it won't end well. But couples who work things out and discuss problems (despite how difficult those conversations) will usually come out on the other end stronger than ever.

For me personally, I understand why NFL players are taking a knee, it's about social injustice in this country. I get it, and I support it, and to be honest it has started a conversation in the country that was long overdue. However, to label their actions as something un-patriotic is a mis-characterization of their motives. But it's easier to look at their lack of patriotism than it is to deal with social injustice.

So if that's the issue that we have to fight, so be it. Just do me a favor first....Google the words "Patriotic Movies".....and tell me what is a common thread you see there. I promise you won't find the movie "Selma" on the list.

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