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Friday, July 18, 2008

Am I a patriot?

Independence Day, I guess I should start with something appropriately patriotic like "God Bless America" but that sounds too 'Bushie' and 'Reaganistic'. Maybe something lighter like "Good Morning America" nope, that's been done to death too. Hmmmm, this is a tough one. It's hard to think of something new to say isn't it? But then, that's what this blog is about I reckon. Still, what to say? Okay, I'm making this too hard. I'll just say "How ya'll doin America" and dedicate this post to the mood I woke up in which in short was "Don't blow it America!"

I know, sounds a little preachy, and it is I suppose. But I aim that dart at myself as well because let's face it, we're all on this National cruise together. Today I started thinking about patriotism, which is logical given it's the 4th of July. I wondered what the word means? Beyond Webster's, I think we all have our own interpretations or definitions. So, I took out a blank sheet of paper and started a list of all the words that described patriotism to me. It was a slow process at first, like watching paint dry while straining to hear a digital clock tick. But eventually the ole brain kicked into gear. Ideas came slow and erratic at first, the process being a lot like throwing wads of wet newspaper at the wall to see what sticks. However, eventually the pace quickened, and I became a writing dervish of sorts, like a super ball in a concrete bunker. Before I knew it I'd filled eight pages of college ruled notebook paper, front and back.

Sitting back I took a few sips of a ice cold Diet Coke and then read and re-read my handiwork. After several soul searching edits I read the results, trying to look at it like it was the first time I'd ever seen it. The eight pages had been reduced to just three words, the lowest common denominators of the word patriotism. Simply put, I see patriotism as an old family recipe, handed down from generation to generation, seasoned to one's own taste, but sharing the same base, the same three main ingredients if you will. Those ingredients are FAITH, for without faith there can be no hope. LOYALTY, for without loyalty there can be no union. And COURAGE, for without courage, commitment is weak if not completely doubtful. Without courage of commitment there can be no progress, only decay and eventual extinction.

Sounds a tad maudlin if not down right harsh, I know. But that is where my thoughts are this July 4th, 2008. No matter what your politics are or who your candidate is, the important thing is that you have them. In your own way you are part of the process, doing something to contribute to the assurance that there is a greater good for us all to strive toward. Even if all you do is listen, pay attention, debate, grouse, or praise about the issues, you are playing a role in our future as a nation. Clearly we are at a crossroads in America today. The world is at the same crossroad by the way. If we are to survive as a nation and as a species we need to all be involved in whatever way we can. We need to set an example for our next generations that there is no such thing as a free ride, that people must come together to assure our natural evolution.

The older I get, the more conscious I am of the fact that I am not contributing enough. This post is my first step in correcting that flaw in my character. As writers we share the gifts of keen observation and above average communications skills. And as Americans we share the responsibility to use them, wisely and often! We need to be voices that encourage other voices. We need to be a part of our Nation's history while it is still being written!

These two men asking us all to grant them the right, the power, and the responsibility to lead our nation into an uncertain future must be scrutinized. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, read what they have already said and connect the dots. Take nothing at face value, be a Berrian like it says in the Bible. Question with respect. To those of you who write I urge you to write. To those who do not, I urge you to read and speak out. No matter what the cynics say, this country can endure. But let's ban together as a herd of wild mustangs and not a herd of sheep. Challenge our leadership and drive them to lead. Make time for one another before we make time for ourselves. Show the world that we have not forgotten what it means to be free, and more importantly, that we have not forgotten the price of freedom.

Truly, from the top of my soapbox, "God Bless us all..."

next post: back on track
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