What Is Patriotism?
My husband and I were going for a ride in the car, as we often do, to get out of the house, away from the daily grind, and to have one of our amazing talks. We talk about everything from vacations we one day dream of taking, to the tasks we accomplish during the day, to our beliefs on things such as religion and politics, and everything in between.
With the presidential election coming up in 2 short months, we were discussing the differences and similarities that we have in what we believe and we stumbled upon the topic of patriotism. A question crossed my mind…what exactly is patriotism?
Everyone obviously has different beliefs when it comes to politics. I have mine and you have yours. I’d like to think to some extent that some day, we all may be able to get along and come to some sort of general consensus when it comes to what we believe. I would love to see a general respect, even though some days I feel like it’s wishful thinking. Now that we are parents, we’ve had many discussions on the future and what we would like to see in the next 20 years when our daughter is old enough to vote and have her own set of beliefs.
When someone stumbles across the idea of patriotism, what do they think of? My grandfather is a war veteran and someone whom I’ve had the utmost respect for. In saying that, I believe that patriotism has nothing to do with war or “fighting for our freedom.” I believe it has nothing to do with the flag in your yard or the bumper sticker on your car, or the amount of taxes you do or don’t pay. I don’t think it has anything to do with your religion, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, your family history, how much money you make, your social status, or even whether you vote or don’t.
My idea of patriotism is helping out your neighbors when they need you the most and giving back to your community when it is in need, no matter what community you live in. Communities, towns, cities, and metropolises make up this country, and if every single one of them helped out the other people in their community, this country would thrive. Giving to charity, whether that be donating spare change at the bottom of your purse, donating your old items to Goodwill, or donating thousands of dollars because you have the means to do so. I believe that keeping our country clean so that one day, our children can enjoy walks in the wilderness, our national and state parks, clean air, and fresh water. Protecting the things that in the end, mean the most. We need air to breath and water to drink, so for the future of this country, these resources need to be protected with dillgent care.
Because there is no national language and no national religion in our country, I believe tolerance is patriotism. Accepting everyone as you would want yourself accepted, regardless of sexuality, gender, religion, language, and politics. Embrace our differences, don’t shun them.
I truly believe that our founding forefathers didn’t think that toting around guns, waving our flag, and being proud of your country was all that patriotism entailed. As a matter of fact, I think it was quite the opposite. Patriotism is accepting your neighbor as your brother or sister. It is putting your faith into our educational system, no matter where a child lives, how much money their parents make, or what part of a city they live in because every child deserves an education, no matter where they come from. It is taking pride in your community and treating others the way you would want to be treated. It is giving to the people who need it most; even if it’s a few pennies at a time, every little bit counts.
I believe true patriotism isn’t sticking your nose in the air at a job that someone holds, whether that be working in a factory line, a teacher, the president of a major company, a cook at the local diner, or someone who cleans the streets of our cities to keep them looking their best. It is a pat on the back for being part of the system that makes this country great.
I truly believe that this country would be a better place if instead of turning our noses at someone and accusing them of either being lazy, not wanting to work, or not trying hard enough, we help them get back up.
It is often said that the best way to build a structure is from the ground up. If you try to build something from the top, it has no foundation and cannot stand on its own. Let’s start a transformation of thought where we start from the ground up, and help those who need it get back off the ground.
That my friends, to me, is true patriotism.
Terry currently resides in SE Wisconsin with her husband and daughter, Annie. She graduated from Random Lake High School in 2001, obtained an Associates degree in general arts and sciences in 2003 from UW Sheboygan, and then obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Communications in 2005 from UW Milwaukee. She is currently obtaining an Associates Degree in photography from MATC. She owns a photography business which she runs out of her home. Her goal in life is to have more children, see all 50 states, step foot on every continent, and meet an American president.