America still land of free


Let’s face it. In these modern times, old-fashioned patriotism seems like an awfully quaint notion.

The Information Age might be better known as the Criticism Age. With the immediate delivery of information into our computers, tablets and phones, we can know instantly when something happens and weigh in on it, often in real time, before the actual event has played out.

We criticize government on every level — local, state and federal — and point out every flaw that we can find with those who don’t see eye-to-eye with us on matters of politics, religion, ideology and culture. What should be constructive criticism often falls into who can obtain the highest volume and make a point stick, regardless of its validity.

We celebrate celebrity. We place people on pedestals, creating golden idols, and then take pleasure in the discovery that these idols are indeed mortals who have feet of clay.

So, where does patriotism fit in these days? How can we have pride in a country where so much divisiveness is rampant, where the red, white and blue have been separated into hard lines of conservative red and liberal blue?

As hard as it may be to believe, a lot of what we hear — and don’t like — is evidence that the great experiment of a democratic republic is working.

The fact is, we have the freedom that is necessary to do all of these things, including those that are not productive and even uncivil.

We’re free to root for or to show contempt for those who occupy government, whether it’s city hall, the state capital or Washington. We can call attention to problems we see, and we can applaud the things that we believe are going well.

As much as we might wish that discourse was more civil and meaningful, what we have in America is still the best thing going today.

To see how life could be, just look across the ocean to Egypt, where that nation’s experiment with democracy is flagging. Barely a year into it, the Egyptian military stepped in to take over the government Wednesday as unhappiness with the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and ensuing protests threatened to throw Egypt into civil war.

The fact that such an event is unimaginable here is a testament to the guiding documents that our forefathers created, the blueprints that have served our nation well for 237 years now.

This would be a good day to give those documents a look. Read the eloquent Declaration of Independence that set our nation on its unique course. Read the U.S. Constitution, which in 1879 went into effect and ensured Americans basic rights — freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the protection of life, liberty and property.

A great deal of blood and treasure went into the creation of those rights, and a great deal more has been sacrificed in the years since to ensure they stay intact. And all of that — and more — is symbolized in the red, white and navy blue cloth that flies over our public buildings, churches, businesses and homes, especially today.

Find one of those flags today. Look at it. Realize what it represents. Realize what we have going for us.

And if you feel a little shiver on the back of your neck, a tingle of excitement and appreciation, you’ll know the answer to the question we asked earlier. Where does patriotism fit in? Where is the pride in our nation?

Right where it has always been. Right where it always will be.

We only need to allow ourselves to look.