My friend and colleague Tom Daly, editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, improves my mood with this Twain quote:
“Talking of patriotism what humbug it is; it is a word always which always commemorates a robbery. There isn’t a foot of land in the world that doesn’t represent the ousting and re-ousting of a long line of successive ‘owners,’ who each in turn, as ‘patriots,’ with proud swelling hearts defended against the gang of ‘robbers’ who came to steal it and did—and became swelling hearted patriots in their turn.”
—Mark Twain, U.S. writer, Notebook May 26, 1896
Joan H. says
Patriotism scares me, and the fact that it scares me concerns me, because I love the country where I live, warts and all. But I see patriotism confused into religious fervor, and that is what frightens me. There’s a church in Anchorage that displays a HUGE American flag behind the pulpit–when my daughter was little, we’d see their televised sermons and call it the “Church of the Flag.” I stopped saying the pledge of allegiance some years back because I think many people confuse the flag with God, confuse patriotism with religion, and that leads to zealotry and intolerance and a righteousness that can have unpredictable and horrifying results.
And so I thank you, David, for that chuckle-producing quotation, and for reminding me to think this through again, this notion of patriotism, to keep evaluating what it means to ME and to try and find, someday, a balance that feels right.
David Murray says
And it appears your old Uncle Ted might be a patriot and a robber both!
Joan H. says
It certainly does. He’s done more for this state than any other single individual except perhaps Bill Egan. And yet even Uncle Ted, it appears, fell into that unreality that is politics, and forgot that there does exist some black and white. It’s one of the reasons I quit that sort of work–my boundaries were blurring, I began to believe that that world was the real world. I’m sorry that he fell.
And yet it was his arrogant son who came up with the term “Valley Trash” in reference to those of us who live in the Matanuska Valley, as opposed to the sophisticates in Anchorage. I suppose that in the end the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?
Proud to be Valley Trash,
Joan H. says
And then there’s Fairbanks, where we women have said of the men for many years, “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”
If Alaska were a cartoon character, it’d be Popeye: “IyamwhatIyam.” Come visit me. You too, Steve and Cindy. I’ll show yas a good time.
Tom Keefe says
A former pastor at Joy! Lutheran Church in Gurnee (my church home) refused to allow the U.S. flag within the church building. He never wanted us to confuse our faith and our allegiance to God with our allegiance to this country.
The only religious group that has a home country (as far as I know) is Israel. Even there, a cultural Jew is not always the same as a “religious” Jew. The practice of the faith isn’t automatic, just because someone is “Jewish.”
And not every Jew lives in Israel, just as Christians, Muslims, and other religions have members in many countries.
So it doesn’t make sense to link a religion to a country–definitely not Christianity and the United States.
Many of our founding fathers were Christian, but this is not a “Christian nation”–even though its laws and principles rely heavily on Judeo-Christian teachings.
Please stop stereotyping people from any faith. There is more than enough zealotry, intolerance and righteousness to spread around.