Friday, July 04, 2008

Putting The Country First By Senator John McCain

Link stolen from CO's blog.

"Who shall write the history of the American revolution?" Adams asked Jefferson in one of the 158 letters they exchanged after they'd rediscovered their bonds. "Nobody," responded Jefferson, suggesting that while writers could understand the facts, they might never grasp the sacrifices.
So they TOLD us that what people write will be wrong.  What are we to believe about the founding, then?  How are we to know if what we are acting in accordance to their hopes for their America of tomorrow?
I believe they would. Patriotism is deeper than its symbolic expressions, than sentiments about place and kinship that move us to hold our hands over our hearts during the national anthem.
Nice dig on Obama.  Classy.
It is putting the country first, before party or personal ambition, before anything.
Yes, that's patriotism.  Of course, the definition is nebulous, even circular, because The Country cannot tell us what its needs are.  And so pure patriotism would seem to be impossible.  So what "the needs of the country" are get defined by individuals, who so often do the wrong thing for the right reason.
It is the willing acceptance of Americans, both those whose roots here extend back over generations and those who arrived only yesterday, to try to make a nation in which all people share in the promise and responsibilities of freedom.
Who is the patriot?  The person who does the wrong thing in name of Country, or the person who does the right thing no matter what?
I've spent a lot of time listening to veterans, talking to them, and also serving with them when we were young and at war. After their tours end, these soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines almost always return to the hard times, times of pain, suffering, loss, violence, and fear. They remember where they risked everything, absolutely everything, for the country that sent them there. It gives their lives special meaning.
Wait, I thought they risked everything for good of the country?  Is really it a sacrifice if I do something that gives my life special meaning?  I thank all soldiers for their service.  But it is folly to believe that joining the Army will result in any change at all on the homefront, except to maintain its existence. 
Today, politics is derided for its self-interest, combativeness, duplicity, and triviality. But such failings are not unique to our age. Both Adams and Jefferson lamented them in their own time. But that's the great beauty of our form of government, which they helped to create; it accounts for the vices of human nature as much as it hopes for our virtues. This blessed country remains a place of limitless horizons, a country where ideals, where a love of liberty and self-reliance still check the excesses of both government and man.
I'll agree with that.  But in this recent political epoch, who is calling who names?  Which cohort calls any differing opinion of the "other side" unAmerican?  Who is going around saying that wanting change, wanting to make a great country even better, means that one hates America?  There's some leadership I'd like to see.
In return, the gift we can give back to our country is a patriotism that requires us to be good citizens in public office or in the community spaces where government is absent. We should, by all means, argue with each other, as did Adams and Jefferson, about the policies of government and the history we hope to make tomorrow. But it should be an argument among friends, who agree more than they disagree, each of us united in a cause larger than our individual interests, honestly debating the best means to serve that cause, and intent on finding some common ground upon which to overcome together the many challenges before us. To love one's country is to love one's countrymen. And if we are to replicate the spirit of our founding age, if we are to be genuine patriots, we must remember also that we are patriots because we love the countrymen we will never know, who will be born after we are gone.
Again, completely agree.  You first.


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