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.
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.