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Reader's View: Real patriotism requires active citizens

Fourth of July celebrations get me thinking about patriotism and its role in our country. We are good for flag-waving and platitudes. But do we practice what we preach? Do we love country enough to live up to our ideals?

Why is patriotism considered the highest of virtues? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about people?

Shouldn’t we love morality, justice or tolerance more?

Why is patriotism always expressed in military terms? War is considered the ultimate sacrifice for country. But our “freedom” has been achieved by social and political activists. The struggles for justice and equality were fought by abolitionists, suffragettes, civil-rights workers, voting-rights activists, labor-union organizers, whistleblowers and peace marchers. Why aren’t they honored as patriots?

Why do we revile the dissidents who loved America enough to criticize it and work to make it better? Questioning our government is essential to democracy. It is the highest expression of patriotism. But too often these patriots are beaten, killed or jailed.

Is patriotism just another propaganda tactic to protect the ruling elites? Are our shallow, patriotic rituals a way to keep us from thinking about the real issues?

Real patriotism requires active citizens. Do we love our country enough to actually participate in the political process? Do we believe in democracy enough to join a group, advocate for an issue or work for a candidate? Or is politics something you don’t discuss in polite company?

Philip Anderson