October 05, 2004

Attempting to understand blind Patriotism

When civilians or soldiers lament that they would be proud to fight and even die for their country, what does that really mean? I saw some American soldiers who were amputees from the Iraq war last night on PBS. Most said that they had no regrets about losing a limb, vision, cognitive abilities or various other traumatic life altering wounds from the war. When they stated such, all at once I admired them, felt sorry for them and felt that I was missing out on what America has given them that makes them risk their lives and limbs for the nation…without question.

I have no such patriotism. My patriotism is highly qualified and reconciled with righteousness. If you ask most people what their hierarchy of allegiance is they will say God, Family, Country. I would have to say that would by mine as well; except that I would put my people before my country. Thus, before I would be willing to risk life and limb for country, the reason would have to reconcile with the highest order of righteousness. I would think that anyone who places God first, and means it, would have to thus qualify their patriotism as well, but many do not.

The reason that many Americans do not qualify their patriotism, while putting country behind God and family is that many people erroneously equate the action of America with Gods will. Many, if not most, people see the wealth and richness of America to be the blessing of God. God Blessed America, so they think. Thus, if what this nation enjoys in wealth is the resultant of Gods blessing, then one would subliminally conclude that those less fortunate have less of Gods blessing or is cursed. Personally, I do not feel that God plays favorites with his children, until judgment allows them to enter or exit heaven after death. While in the living, Americas wealth and richness has, I believe, nothing to do with Gods blessing and our actions as a nation therefore not implicitly representing Gods will.

In light of this, I cannot simply give my life or limbs when a president and congress calls me to do so. I would do so if the cause passed my own litmus test of right and wrong. A patriot can easily be confused with a fool, if they are willing to accept what the government tells them without question. We all know that politicians lie and the government has clandestine operations and plenty of secrets both of which are kept from the public. One of the consequences that counter the benefits of keeping secrets is that it erodes trust. I know that our leaders know that they cannot rally public support for wars, in a democracy, unless you play to peoples emotions of fear. We need to get them before they get us, mindset. That may be the pretext, because American would not accept going to war over oil or other resources, if you told them that flat out.

I think that many Americans, especially white Americans, do not want to know the truth. The reason being is that ignorance of the truth can serve as justification for benefiting from unrighteous behavior by our nation. If you know that what our government does on occasions is wrong, causes deaths and exploitation, then you are complicit in it if you are backing the government’s actions. Thus, for those people who say they put God first, they want to remain ignorant so that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of America’s actions without having to be confronted with the guilt of unrighteousness and “blood wealth”. This is why so many Americans get highly upset when you bring up or accuse the government of engaging in terrorism via the CIA or this nation’s history of doing to others what it now condemns others for doing, but has not reconciled the debts from when it did such things.

I guess I wish that I lived in a nation whose history was such that it would command my blind trust and faith. In such a nation, I would not have to second guess that when the nation called me to give my life and limbs…that righteousness was on my side. In a way, I am jealous because if a person is not willing to do for something (nation)...living is not as good.


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

Interesting Perspective Noah, White folk for the most part can identify with this nation and the reason it wages wars because they believe in America and they follow the cliché that “America is not perfect but it is home and no nation is perfect”. Black men and women are drawn into the Military for different reasons, I remember being asked as all those in my platoon were asked "Why did you join the Marine Corp", in my naivety, I thought the questions was one seeking a truthful answer and not a patriotic response. So as recruit after recruit answered "to defend my country sir" my turn to answer grew closer, than finally it arrived and I said something along the lines of seeing more of the world outside of Chicago. The Drill Instructor was in shock and said a few choice words to me, and that’s when I realized the question was not meant to solicit a truthful answer and it was the beginning of my three month indoctrination.

There are those who truly join the Military to defend America but I do not believe that is the reason Black men and women join. Poverty is the number one motivator for Black men and women to join the military.

I too wish I lived in a nation that I could follow the leadership blindly because I know they are righteous, some will say, there is no country like that, and my response to them would be, well a nation where I believed those in Power were doing things in my best interest and not for special interest would suffice.


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