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Love of country isn’t just about cheering

Sunday, July 4th, 2010



It’s July Fourth weekend.  Time for parades, hot dogs, fireworks.  In his weekly Centre Square essay, Chris Satullo says he loves all that fun stuff – but would also love to see more nuanced view of patriotism take root.

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Ever been to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia? If not, you should.  A visit there begins with a top-notch multimedia show

I’ve seen the show, oh, 10 times.  Every time, when the soaring music ends, I’m crying.

I am, you see, a patriotic sap.   I mention this because, in my time as a cranky pundit, I’ve sometimes criticized America for failing to live up to the principles that bring me to tears when I visit the Constitution Center.

This has led some to advise me to move to Cuba, Iran or other tyrannical spots. Some have said they yearn to see me tortured by terrorists. On one Web site, I beat out Jane Fonda in a vote for least patriotic American.  Jane Fonda!

A Fourth of July weekend seems a good time to examine a constricted view of patriotism that some hold.  In this view, loving America consists entirely of mouthing platitudes about the greatest nation ever, never noticing any shadows or dark edges.

Now, I love a good Independence Day parade: fire engines blaring, little kids wobbling down Main Street on their decorated bikes, hot dogs in the  park.

But that’s kid stuff. Serious citizens of the Republic must rise to a more adult take. It’s a big, complicated country – so you need to hold a few conflicting thoughts in your head.

The U.S. Constitution is one of the finest works of the human mind and soul. But it also had deep flaws we’re still struggling to repair.

America is always a great notion.  But, sometimes not a great nation.

No good parent, spouse or sibling would think that loving those close to you means never noticing their flaws, or keeping mum as they do something destructive, mean, selfish.

Like familial love, patriotism means having the guts to say what needs to be said – over and over, until it sinks in.  Patriotism also means avoiding extremes either way.  Treating America as the source of all good in the world, or as the root of all evil – either way is dumb.

I’d love to see mature patriotism someday get as much air time as bumptious flag-waving or nasty grousing.

It’s been a long wait. But I’m an American – so I’m schooled in hope.

This is Chris Satullo.


5 Comments

  • J Noir says:

    When comments await “moderation” for 3 days, I guess it doesn’t make much sense to respond here. I’ll add them again (and then I’m gone):
    “Yes, the 4th of July is a tough day for Chris Satullo, what with his desire for “mature patriotism”. Which, like familial love, means “having the guts to say what needs to be said – over and over, until it sinks in.” Remind me not to invite this guy to MY birthday party – I’m just trying to open my presents and he’s telling me that I’ve got to lose weight and help the homeless more and I’m not as smart as I think I am, anyway. Thanks, thanks, I love you, too, man. At least this year he’s not calling for a day of mourning on the 4th, like he did a couple of years ago. Thank God for small blessings!” -first posted on July 7.

  • F. Inahoy says:

    Please itemize the deep flaws in our Constitution.

  • J Noir says:

    Yes, the 4th of July is a tough day for Chris Satullo, what with his desire for “mature patriotism”. Which, like familial love, means “having the guts to say what needs to be said – over and over, until it sinks in.” Remind me not to invite this guy to MY birthday party – I’m just trying to open my presents and he’s telling me that I’ve got to lose weight and help the homeless more and I’m not as smart as I think I am, anyway. Thanks, thanks, I love you, too, man. At least this year he’s not calling for a day of mourning on the 4th, like he did a couple of years ago. Thank God for small blessings!

  • Scott says:

    Chris,

    How difficult it must have been to write this column, America being evil and epitomizing all that is wrong with the world.

    What? Obama is in office?

    WOO HOO!!! Bring on the parades!

    Transparently vapid as always you are, Mr. Satullo…

    • Dennis says:

      Scott: thanks for missing the point AND proving the point all in one fell swoop. congrats, quite an achievement.

      and thanks, Mr. Satullo, for your commentary.

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