Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Didn't Know

I didn't know.

I was raised as a liberal Democrat in Northeastern Ohio by two Unitarian parents during the 1960's, and I didn't know.

I didn't know there was more than one way to be patriotic.

Patriotism and love of country meant intense pride in our democracy. It meant gratitude for our freedoms, especially freedom to learn, think, speak, and worship as we saw fit.

It meant choosing one's own destiny, not dictated by an inherited social class. It meant that hard work and intelligence could open doors. We had a belief in the ingenuity and perseverance of American scientists and inventors, admiration for Americans in the arts, respect for craftsmen and laborers. Being American to us meant acceptance for all.

Patriotism meant accepting those who were different. My family cared a lot about civil rights, the war on poverty, tolerance for those of different faiths. Freedom was meant to be shared; the great American experiment called all us to be inclusive, open-minded, casting wide the net to bring the rights and privileges of democracy to all.

That is the flag that flew over my house. That is the flag that was in my heart when I learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school.

I didn't know there was any other.

A quick search on the Internet reveals a very different sort of patriotism, a very different America. I'm not a child anymore so I can't pretend that I don't know. Sometimes I read views so full of hate, judgement, and rejection that I am embarrassed to be patriotic. I look at the flag and squirm. If that is America then I know I am not included.

What do we do with this America that is, more and more, two Americas? Today is a day we should be able to celebrate in all of our diversity, yet with a feeling of oneness. How can we do that?

I don't know.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.