Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reviving Patriotism

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I think the patriotic observance of national holidays is important. But since this happens to be a presidential election year for Americans and with the Supreme Court ruling on health care last week, this feels like a good time to say something about patriotism in general. Or more specifically, how we can teach patriotism to our children.

Over the past few months I've randomly overheard one too many snide comments about our politicians and President Obama. On a couple of occasions these swipes were made by youngsters who clearly were parroting their parents opinion on topics they didn't understand. Now let me be clear: I'm all in favor of being opinionated and political criticism is a necessary part of any government. The very foundations of democracy rely on individual citizens expressing their point of view. Yet I believe way too many people demean the integrity of the political process and its leaders by running their mouths in a counter productive and disrespectful way.

What I'm saying is that you don't have to respect the person or their politics, but you should respect the office. It doesn't change anything to insult or hate on our country and its leaders if you aren't prepared to offer constructive suggestions. And I'm not talking about casual jokes since it always helps to keep your sense of humor! But in serious conversation, no matter how frustrated you feel with our civil servants or their policies, I think it's important to express your opinions in a thoughtful and articulate way. Explain your point of view and political expectations to your children when they're old enough to participate in the dialogue, but teach them by example to be respectful of our leaders, regardless of differing politics.

What we need is more thoughtful, proactive participation, and with that the possibility that there will be new generations growing up with the kind of loyalty and patriotism that encourages them to vote, to make good decisions in their personal lives, and uphold their political beliefs with integrity. What we don't need are more twelve year old inserting our President's name in the middle of a strand of expletives while chewing a mouth full of Doritos and trying to conquer the next level of their video game.

Happy Independence Day! May all of us try harder to make our country the kind of place we want our grandchildren to live!

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