William Edelen: The True Patriot

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

On this weekend of memory…let us remember that…

“There are certain words… our own and others we’re used to… words we’ve used… heard… had to recite… forgotten… Rubbed shiny in the pocket… left home for keepsakes… inherited… stuck away in a back drawer… in the locked trunk… at the back of the quiet mind…”

Liberty… equality… freedom… to none will we sell… refuse… or deny right or justice. We hold these truths to be self-evident. I am merely saying… what if these words pass?… what if they pass… and are gone… and are no more?… It took a long time to buy these words… it took a long time to buy them… and much blood… and much pain…” ~Stephen Vincent Benet

On this weekend of memory, please do forget cold beer and picnics for a few minutes and remember these words. Memorize them. Read them to your children… neighbors and friends. And then… read them… again… over… and over again.

There is not a privilege nor an opportunity that modern society offers that has not been paid for by another person’s blood or another person’s labors. We live by liberties that other’s won and died for. We are protected by a Constitution and Bill of Rights that others wrote and created. We live daily… in every area of our lives… on the interest of the principle that has been paid.

LIBERTY… FREEDOM… what if these words pass and are no more?

We must remember that we have struggled against dictators… tyrants… bigots… dogmatists… forces of slavery and evil… against those who would shackle and close the mind of human beings to free thought and free expression.

First, it was the Klan who were sure that Jews and Blacks were out to undermine America. And so they burned crosses to scare people into “pure” Americanism. After the Klan came those who even branded William Allen White as a “lap dog of Moscow.” After that came Senator Joe McCarthy who destroyed hundreds of human lives in his obscene search for “pure” Americanism.

Now… it is the Christian and political right wing who want everyone to live by their rules and their version of “pure” Christianity and “pure” patriotism. Can you imagine… in America?

America means that no group… and no organization… can assume the right to tell other people what to think… what they must believe… how they must act… what books are ‘safe’ to read… what social causes they must represent… what opinions they must hold…. what women can do with their own bodies… what people can do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

How ironic, if we should lose all of our hard won freedoms, not to terrorists, but to right wing Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals… the cloaked bullies… the TEA Party… the National Rifle Association… spewing out slogans and clichés. We have seen one fanatical group after another attempt to kill this ideal that is America. The words… LIBERTY… FREEDOM… mean nothing to them.

Any person who would deny for others the rights that he/she insists for himself violates America, her freedoms and her Constitution. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States guaranteed us our freedoms, if we, as a free people, assume responsibility for them. This document is the heart of representative democracy.

The spirit of liberty for which men and women have died is the spirit of the free mind… free thought… free speech… free debate… free exchange of ideas… freedom of religion and… freedom FROM religion…

It is living and working for this spirit of the free land that makes the true patriot of America. It is not waving flags… it is not singing “God Bless America” that identifies the true patriot. The true patriot of America is identified by living the freedom that is America and working for its propagation. This spirit of freedom… spirit of liberty… will prevail and mature only as men and women who understand it take the stage and play their parts.

“LIBERTY… EQUALITY… FREEDOM… I am merely saying… what if these words pass… and are no more?  It took a long time to buy these words… and much pain… and much blood…”
~~

 

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