Friday, June 01, 2012
‘Do We Really Understand Patriotism?’
What is a Patriot? A defender of liberty? What is liberty, then? In order to understand liberty as it relates to the United States, we must define it in terms of a human being, and a human being must, in turn, be defined in terms beyond the mere exigencies of life, because life to a human being enters into what is considered the realm of the spirit.
So, what is life, then, beyond the sustaining functions of the body. It is the experience of the brain interacting with the phenomena of the universe that surrounds us, through the channels of the senses, whereupon the brain creates the individual world in which each person lives. Each world thus created and experienced at the center of consciousness creates the sensations of life and identity for the individual human being.
Each world, having been created by a flesh and blood organ, our brain, and placed at the service of experience and consciousness, allows each life, within its world, to unfold from a center as it adapts and changes under the internal forces of temperament and desire while it grapples with external forces both moral/social and natural.
Each of us has gifts, all balanced in differing measures, allowing for billions of unique individuals. Each individual inhabits a unique world created, each, by a human brain with a common human heritage that binds us all into our universal spiritual existence. Some of these worlds are masculine, while others are feminine. Both are important; none more so than the other.
Powerful forces working within each of us cause the forging of a path reflecting our desires, inspirations and aspirations that leads toward the actualization of each of us at the center of our individual worlds. We might refer to this as our life’s dream. The pursuit of the individual’s life dream functions as the vehicle for the unfolding of a life.
Might liberty, then, be defined as the freedom to passionately pursue our individual life’s dream within a morality that protects others from what might be our excesses and transgressions, and one which, in turn, protects us from the the excesses and transgressions of others? In fact, the constitution of this country protects the rights of the individual against the tyranny of the majority. And shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t a society nurture the pursuit of dreams rather than inhibit them?
Women nurture...naturally and instinctively. Men protect the space within which that gentle attentive nurturing can take place and are rewarded with feelings of strength accompanied by a gentle sense of purpose and satisfaction at being able to provide safety and plenty to support the loving care of those who are vulnerable. Isn’t this expressed by the image of Mary and Joseph, of the Sacred Hearts, of both, the beautiful virgin mother and the son she so attentively raised? Doesn’t his martyred soul and tenacious divine empathy speak specifically to his love of humanity--all of humanity?
But what of those who are denied access to the resources, images, and experience that would allow these instincts to emerge undistorted. Might they be living in a world crushed and diminished by the machinations of corrupted institutions powered by the inertia of apathy, unchecked and unquestioned, as it exerts its life smothering force protected behind the cloak of “normal?”
What are the threats to liberty? Sometimes when I hear people talk, I’m reminded of an economic belief of the time of European colonialism. Back then, it was believed that there was only so much wealth in the world, and if you wanted more, you had to take it from somebody else. And they did, want more and take, as evidenced by incessant warfare, brutality, greed and plunder.
Are we coming back to that? Wealth is created. It is the product of human minds. Without the creative life’s dreaming of individuals, there would be no wealth. The more opportunities there are for the pursuit of life’s dreams, the more wealth there will be for the health and pleasure of the society. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” right?
The American Dream is not a statistically defined, monolithic fantasy predicated on possessing copious amounts of the correct stuff. The American Dream represents the promise of the fulfillment of each individual’s dream, and not the assimilation into a single, specific, national dream. America is the fertile field of dreams. The creation and worship of monolithic idols can dull a people’s passions for life, and with promises of self-assured, righteously exclusive membership in an elite society supported by the spuriously justified suffering of others, can lull them into a sense of complacency and false security.
The blind worship of symbols and idols--national and religious--can be hijacked with the employment of rhetoric played against desires for personal security and the maintenance of status and comfort. This has happened in the past, has resulted in fascism, and can do so again if we are not vigilant.
I’m struck by recent images of immigrants standing curbside watching parades with little American Flags being waved enthusiastically in their hands. I also hear of people drawing back from them suspiciously--fearfully. Relax, these people haven’t come here to take our “stuff.” They’re here because they so passionately want to join with us in this beautiful, fertile field of dreams. Like the rest of us, they want to prosper and see the nurturing society moved forward to greater prosperity. They always have. The people populating this land before the Europeans came knew the importance of freedom.
Their belief was that every human being deserved to be free. How did you come to be a citizen of this nation? I recently heard a quote in passing while watching PBS on television. It went something like this: “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; it’s justice.” Perhaps, if liberty and justice could be extended to all of humanity, there would be no American dream. It would be a world dream.
The patriots who founded this nation fought for the freedom to pursue their dreams. They fought for the right for all citizens to be secure in their person--all of us! Does that not include our individual worlds as they are animated by our dreams? Some of this country’s dreams are simply for a home, a family and a purpose; others seek empire and personal aggrandizement. In his “Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith voiced his belief that the self interests of entrepreneurs could be harness through the promise of reward to provide vital services to the nation. He also warned of the brutality that could entail if these self-serving drives were allowed to express themselves unchecked. Was he not disclosing the need for a more democratic morality that was opposed to feudalism?
I believe this nation’s founding fathers held to the belief that this liberty, for which they sacrificed so much, would prevail for their children and children’s children and so on without end. The content of the dreams may change, but the passions and the needs to pursue them issue from life itself. Freedom will never become unnecessary. We will always need patriots. We will recognize them by their vigilance to threats against liberty and by their willingness to confront arrogant, megalomaniacal greed. Mothers nurture; fathers protect. The root of our word “patriot” is pater, which means Father. In the Pledge of Allegiance we say, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We all have an inalienable right to pursue our individual dreams. Within your dream, you may find your place within the ranks of Patriots.
By Richard Zautcke