Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Is #Patriotism?



Hey Everyone!!

I've been hearing from a lot of people that it's my "patriotic duty" to support President-elect Trump, to keep my mouth shut if I don't agree with him or his policies, and to bow to the authority of the government. Well, guess what? I'm an American citizen, and it is absolutely not my "duty," patriotic or otherwise, to do any such thing.  Don't believe me?  How about the Founding Fathers, will you believe them?  Here's what they had to say on the subject:

“For true patriots to be silent, is dangerous.”—Samuel Adams

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect its country from its government."—Thomas Paine

“If ever the time should come, when vain & aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”—Samuel Adams

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."—Thomas Jefferson

"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."—Benjamin Franklin

“Equal laws protecting equal rights—the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.”—James Madison

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."—George Washington

"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."—Thomas Jefferson

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."— Benjamin Franklin

"Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day."—Thomas Jefferson


And that's just a few. If you think I'm wrong, try reading some of the writings of the Founding Fathers. These were men who took up arms against their "lawful" ruler and created a new country, a new government, after burning the old one to the ground.  These were radicals. Literally, they were revolutionaries. 

I'm certainly not saying the Founding Fathers were right about everything. Historical perspective illustrates some rather glaring examples -- slavery, for one -- that they were simply dead-wrong about.  But as far as who they would consider a patriot, it would certainly not be the people who bow to authority and remain silent about their dissent.

So, what does this mean for us?  Well, first, I'll be clear that I don't think violent resistance is the answer. Things have changed quite a bit in the last 240 years, or so, and violent protest is generally more harmful than helpful to a cause now.  What I do believe in, quite strongly, is exactly what those quotes advocate for. Educate yourself, become involved in the process, and speak up if you have something to say.

Part of speaking up might involve non-violent protests, demonstrations, and civil disobedience. It might involve running for public office, supporting political candidates you agree with either through donations or volunteer efforts, writing articles, giving speeches, blogging, vlogging, discussing your thoughts with friends and family, boycotting companies and institutions that engage in practices you disagree with, becoming involved with political organizations that support or oppose specific issues, etc.

As you see, there are lots of ways to become involved.  I'm not going to tell you what to think or do, that would be exceedingly un-American.  But I will say that if you want to be effective at whatever it is you do end up doing, then you need to make sure you have your facts straight, that the "facts" you learn come from sources that can be relied upon -- not just that you agree with the sources but that they are reliable and base their information on reality, sometimes the best place to learn about a person or issue is from their enemies -- and that you understand the issues you support or oppose thoroughly.  You also need to understand the opposition's point of view and their reasoning, if you hope to have any success at convincing them that your side has merit.  And that all comes back to education.

So, what is patriotism?  Patriotism is being informed and engaged. It's standing up for what you believe is right, no matter what anyone else says or thinks about it. And it's giving everyone else room to do the same.  That doesn't mean you don't challenge ideas you disagree with, but it does mean you don't attempt to prevent others from speaking just because you don't agree with them.  Discussion, debate, and even argument, is patriotic. Censorship is not.

That last is not easy.  It takes quite a bit of self-control and faith in one's own convictions to be able to tolerate people who you disagree with vehemently being allowed to take the mic and make their arguments. But it's vital to do so if you want to maintain a free and open society. Remember, if freedoms can be curtailed for others, they can be curtailed for you too. The only way to truly be free is if everyone is allowed to be free.

In fact, nothing about patriotism is easy.  It requires time, effort, determination, and constant vigilance against complacency and apathy. It isn't possible to be weak or lazy and remain patriotic.  Now, the question you have to ask yourself is, do you have the strength and stamina to be a patriot?  Here's hoping we all do.



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