Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday, America!

Over the last month, I've had plenty of opportunity to reflect on what freedom means. But it wasn't until today that I finally saw something I'd missed about patriotism. Doubtless many of you are wise enough to already know this:

To love your country is to run the same risks as to love another person. It's to risk disappointment when your country doesn't live up to its promises, to the ideals it professes. It's to risk being hurt when you and your people are rejected and disrespected. When your leaders sell out for their own gain, when your intellectuals become dishonest, when your religious leaders lose their faith or their courage, to love your country is painful.

And yet, without that love, your country can never be better than it is right now. The old Latin tag tells us, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (To die for your country is both sweet and seemly). However, for a country to fulfill its promise, to live up to its ideals, you — Joe Citizen — have to live for your country. Duty isn't enough: a man doing his duty does simply what is asked, and does it well, but doesn't necessarily go any further. In a sense, to help make your country beautiful, you have to see her as beautiful first, if nowhere else but in your heart.

We hold these truths to be sef-evident:
that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are LIFE, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness;
that to secure these rights governments
are instituted among men,
with their just powers of government
arising from the consent of the governed ...