Who gets patriotism?

Professor Baingridge put a recent quote of psuedo C&W singer Natalie Maines in context. She complained about why anyone needed to be a patriot. The response was from Ralph Waldo Emerson whose idea was that the only people who don’t understand or feel patriotism are those who don’t live the land but just use it for a place to be. Adlai Stevenson is also quoted:

It was always accounted a virtue in a man to love his country. With us it is now something more than a virtue. It is a necessity. When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.

Patriotism has been a prime topic of discussion – primary among those who think their patriotism is being attacked because of their attacks on their country. They at least deserve recognition for understanding that patriotism is something of value. Natalie does not appear to achieve that status as she disdains patriotism as a concept.

Patriotism is a matter of identity, of taking pride and honor in being a part of something much larger than self. It is the village that Ms. Clinton wrote a book about. It is that society and culture and the land they occupy that gives a patriotic individual greater sense of being and worth. It is a source for health and vitality that rises above the ideas of government and governance to the people themselves. It is sad indeed that some cannot separate their bitterness from governance with the people but it is sadder still that there are those who don’t even see themselves as a part of anything larger than themselves.

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