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May 18, 2013

On the Go: Patriotism doesn't mean keeping status quo

I’ve been labeled many things, but when anti-American and unpatriotic came into the picture recently I was surprised. I know I have some controversial opinions, but since when does that equate to not loving America? I’m a born and raised American kid, and I love America. 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what “I love America” and “patriotism” mean to people. It seems that I should want to join the military; believe whole-heartedly in the American dream; adore capitalism; hate any collective economic systems; study, promote and believe Americanized history, fear Islam, and generally be a cookie cutter. This brings into focus a huge contradiction. I am socially expected to be in the cookie cutter while living in a country of immigrants, change, media and diversity. Hmmmm. Isn’t it wonderful to be the sort of cookies that can create their own shapes? Chocolate chip, anyone?

One part of loving a country is realizing and appreciating all that a country has done for you. I’ve grown up knowing that I’ll have an education, that bridges generally won’t collapse, that when I dial 911 someone will be there to help, that there is a fire department nearby, that if at any point needs can’t be met there are systems in place to help people. I’m blessed to be able to have these expectations. I understand that paying taxes and being required to help isn’t fun, but seeing hungry children, ignorant people, poverty and suffering is certainly not fun either. Even if you’ve never been directly assisted in a way such as food stamps ,everyone has enjoyed benefits like having police, firefighters and paved roads. 

Some people seem to think that loving America means you must ignore and hide any and all flaws. This is so wrong! When you’re involved in children’s lives, you see the kids do good things and bad things. They take, they give, they hit, they hug, they spit, they smile. You try to help them learn right from wrong. You correct their mistakes and help them grow so hopefully next time they won’t make the same mistake. You don’t write them off and give up or lock them away.

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