So this morning I looked up quotations about Patriotism so I could find something profound to post as my FaceBook status. I chose the famous quote by JFK, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.’ But there were many other quotes by well-respected people that alluded to the fact that no real estate was worth killing for and that patriotism was often the seed from which wars grew.
I strongly disagree.
I regularly share very vocal opinions about my country. It is not perfect. There are some corrupt and greedy politicians who seem to know very little about what they do for a living. Healthcare, the field I am most familiar with is in grave danger and I really do care about elderly citizens.
But if I had so much as published this last paragraph in some countries, the secret service or equivalent would come knocking at my door and I would learn quickly to be very quiet about my ideas.
In other countries, I would have been executed long ago. As I sit hit here pecking away at my keyboard with painted nails, it occurs to me that the Taliban would not approve of me at all. I leave the house unescorted and am not arrested. I get to choose my own husband or even to stay single. I am allowed to have as many children as I want and if one had come along that exceeded my quota; my country would not have penalized my first child because I did not kill my second.
And there are many Americans I do not like at all. I do not like racists and I am rather frightened of those who call themselves devil worshipers. But until they infringe upon anyone else’s rights, they are free to be who they are and I will defend that right. Up until the moment that Osama bin Laden incited violence, I would have stood up for his right to be Osama bin Laden.
Today is ten years past the worst day in history that I have been alive to witness. There have been others before my time and there will be more in the future if we cease to be diligent.
But the United States of America as imperfect as it may be, is my country. For those of you who have never lived in another country, I don’t think I could explain what an emotional experience it is when your plane touches down on American soil after an extended absence. So, I will just share with you our National Anthem as sung by one of my yoga instructors, Kim Matsko. Please listen and take a few minutes to remember.