Missing the Point

I found this picture posted on a Facebook group called Americans Against the Republican Party.


This graphic was titled, “Welcome to the real world, not GOP fantasy land”.

I think the person who put this together is missing the point on several levels. For one thing, many of these rankings are debatable and some are subjective. How did they rate levels of democracy or press freedom? Different countries use different criteria for things like infant survival, crime rates, etc making direct comparisons not as easy as one might expect. There are no citations given, so who knows if any of the rankings are actually true? Even taking them all at face value, no one but a fool has ever said that the U.S. is the best at everything.

If the U. S. is number one, it is because we have the largest economy, somewhere around 25% of the world’s total, and the largest and best military. Because of these facts, American has more influence on world events than any other nation. In soft power, the U. S. has more diplomatic and cultural influence than any other nation. The President of the United States is the closest thing we have to a leader of the whole world. Whenever there is a crisis anywhere in world, all the other nations look to the United States for leadership. We have become, at this time, the indispensable nation. Without America the world would be less prosperous, less peaceful, and less technologically advanced. If America should fail, the world would become an uglier place very quickly.

I am writing all of this not to brag about my country. These are simple facts. America is number one at this moment in power, wealth and influence. We do have many flaws and are far from being a perfect nation. No one who has any sense would deny it. The people who made this picture are attacking a strawman, arguing that the Republicans live in a fantasy land in which American is first in every field.

I have to wonder, when did patriotism become a partisan issue? How is is it that Republicans seem to be the only patriotic party. I would not believe this to be the case, but Americans Against the Republican Party evidently believes it to be. They themselves certainly seem to want to belittle their country. I said that America has its flaws and I do not believe we should whitewash or deny them. I think America is a great country despite its flaws. These people, however, seem to take a certain glee in putting down America. I think that in the not too distant past both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives believed themselves to be patriotic and that America was an exceptional nation. Now it seems that many Democrats go out of their way to assert that America is not very exceptional at all. We have people who consider themselves liberal who feel that patriotism is somehow vulgar and beneath them. How did this happen? Is it because the radicals from the 1960’s have managed to infiltrate so many of our institutions?

I am a patriot. I love my country. I love it not because it is wealthy and powerful, although I am glad it is. America and Americans have done great things and I am proud of that, but that is not why I love my country. I love my country simply because it is MY country. There are some who might feel that this sentiment is old-fashioned; a antiquated impulse that sophisticated people should have abandoned. I don’t think so. Homo sapiens is a pack animal and it is only natural and right for us to love our own; our family, our tribe, our nation. This instinct can be taken too far, of course. It can be perverted into the kind of poisonous nationalism that inspires war and genocide. But, any natural human instinct can be perverted. There some some people who derive sexual gratification from hurting or killing others. The sexual instinct in such people is perverted, but that doesn’t mean the sexual instinct itself is bad. So it is with many other natural instincts of humanity. Patriotism may be perverted, but patriotism is itself a good thing. As Sir Walter Scott wrote:

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

Do these people who are so quick to deride their own country really have dead souls? I wonder.



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