Patriotism is more than just waving a flag
In the recent debate over who loves America and who doesn’t, the case was made that Obama definitely doesn’t. Anyway, more than half of people polled said so .
At any rate, how could the pro-abortion author of the HHS Mandate love America when it is founded on the right to life and freedom of religion?
But then, how can a Catholic love America? America broke The Passion’s box office records with 50 Shades of Gray, and is exporting that movie along with abortion, contraception and the sexual revolution in general all over the world.
The debate over who does and who doesn’t love America seemed to skip a step: A discussion of what love for America should look like in the first place. Here are three false ways to love America – and three right ways to do so.
You don’t really love America if America is your idol.
Many of us at one point or another have loved America as an idol. It is in the very language we use: We don’t just support America, we believe in America. A 2014 Pew Research study found more patriotism in conservatives than liberals because more conservatives say the U.S. “stands above all other countries.”
It’s good to believe in a self-governing Republic backed by the high moral principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But if we believe that America is some kind of a mystical force that will always raise itself, and us, above the level of mere mortal nations … we have made America an idol.
Don’t be an idolater. It isn’t real love – it is devotion to a romantic ideal. And that kind of devotion is dangerous for you and for the country.
The only mystical force in America is God; if we cut off our connection to him, America will be just another bad actor on the world stage.
You don’t love America if you are an ideologue.
America is built on a set of principles – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of a happy, or fulfilled, life. The engine of America is a set of freedoms – an ability to pursue economic, religious and political goals.
The key to the whole system is balance. Everything in America comes in twos and threes: The two houses of Congress, the three branches of government, the federal and state governments, the vice president and cabinet. Every ying has its yang.
Ideologues don’t like balance. The ideologue focuses on one aspect of the truth, and mistakes it for the whole truth. Life isn’t a balance of economics, religion and politics for the ideologue. It’s all about class struggle, or it’s only about our attitude toward God, or it is all just the will to power.
Ideologues tend to use America as a means to an end. America’s system is a huge opportunity for an ideologue … rather than submit to its checks and balances, they can exploit its incentives to get their way.
You don’t love America if you’re a libertine.
American freedoms were designed to allow people with a moral compass to better seek their self interest.
But freedoms given to virtuous people can be exploited by people with bad intentions. Think of the difference between an airport in 1995 and an airport in 2015 and you will see the difference between self-governing freedom and government control.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports,” said George Washington. “In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.”
A self-governing nation is only as strong as its people are good at governing themselves. To the extent that Americans become morally relativistic, radically individualistic and unable to control themselves, America will be evil, not good.