There will be much flag waving over the next couple of days. Robert Reich in his tumblr post today made a distinction between two different kinds of patriotism.
Reich writes, “True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve and protect it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the U.S. government, not destroy it.
But these days some Americans loathe the government, and are doing everything they can to paralyze it, starve it, and make the public so cynical about it that it’s no longer capable of doing much of anything.
When arguing against paying their fair share of taxes, some wealthy Americans claim “it’s my money.” They forget it’s their nation, too. And unless they pay their fair share of taxes, American can’t meet the basic needs of our people. True patriotism means paying for America.
So when you hear people talk about patriotism, be warned. They may mean securing the nation’s borders, not securing our society. Within those borders, each of us is on our own. These people don’t want a government that actively works for all our citizens.
Yet true patriotism isn’t mainly about excluding outsiders seen as our common adversaries. It’s about coming together for the common good.”
Norman Rockwell’s ‘Golden Rule’ was painted for the April 1st 1961 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. To me, the painting represents what it means to be American. Rockwell usually reserved the April first cover for a zany picture play, with visual double-entendres or surreal improbabilities. It is interesting that he chose that cover to premier one of his most serious images. It must have been a bit of a mind-bender. Nowadays images like this are thought of as quaint or nostalgic. But, this image, with the broad reach the Post had in 1961, would have been paradigm-shifting for a culture. On Independence Day, as we cook out, drink beer, and watch fireworks in this melting pot of differing stripes and colors, may we embrace what it means to be American, in all it’s wondrous complexity, and come together “for the common good.”