Time to Redefine Patriotism

December 1, 2010

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Stuck in traffic I couldn’t help but notice the big yellow magnetic ribbon stuck to the aircraft carrier in front of me. “Support the Troops” it said. Next to it was a “McCain/Palin 08′” sticker and next to it was a “Real American” sticker. I didn’t get a good look at the driver but I’m sure he was wearing a stars and stripes t shirt, made in Thailand and bought at Wal Mart along  matching hat. It was clear that this guy thought he was a real patriot. It was also clear to me that it never occurred to him that his massive SUV took massive amounts of fuel to ferry his Wal Mart shopping butt about town. And that it took Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen to risk and all too often to lose their lives so that he could afford his faux patriotic lifestyle.

“Support the troops”, what did that mean? Does it mean you’ve done your part because of something stupid you stuck to your car. Are you now absolved of all other responsibility for supporting the troops and being a patriot? I think it’s way past time to reevaluate and redefine what it means to be a patriot. It’s past time to end the lip service so many of us pay. It’s time to take a look at how we as individuals go about our daily routines and how our actions effect our country and our countrymen.

So, how do we support the troops? The single most important thing  we can do is to ensure that our troops grow old. We do that by ensuring that we support and vote for politicians who understand the sacred duty the President of the the United Sates has when committing our troops to battle. There are only two reasons why our troops should ever be put in harms way, if the security of the U.S is in danger or our allies are in danger and we had better choice our allies wisely. That’s it. We don’t go to war because daddy was threatened by the guy who’s ass we kicked. We don’t go to war because we want to secure our rights to cheap oil. We do not go to war for any other reason than there is a real and credible threat to our country. That’s the number one most important thing we can do to “Support Our Troops”.

Once we commit our troops to battle, we support them by giving them every opportunity to succeed. We give them the best leadership and the best equipment available and when they come home we give them the very best care we can provide. Again, the way we make that happen is to vote and to make your voice heard.

Speaking of oil, wouldn’t it be patriotic to ween ourselves off oil and become energy independent? Don’t believe for one moment that given the proper resources that we as Americans can’t find green renewable sources of energy. I find it absurd and unpatriotic to suggest that we can’t do it or that it’s too expensive.  What’s more patriotic than being self sufficient? Don’t give me the “it’s too expensive card”. All new technology initially is expensive, it takes time and resources to make them affordable. You think oil would be cheap if we didn’t subsidize that industry? We give tax breaks for drilling and who knows what. We spend trillions policing a region that without oil would barely be a blip on our radars, then we spend trillions more keeping sea lanes open to send that oil around the world. We built our transportation system on the public dime to support oil based wheeled transportation. While the rest of the world invests in rail, we keep pouring concrete and building Stuckey’s next to highways. All to support oil. It’s not patriotic to fill the House of Saud’s coffers so that they can then fund terrorists to kill Americans. In fact, it’s damn right unpatriotic. You wanna be patriotic? Support massive renewable energy initiatives and more efficient modes of mass transportation.

When did the notion that shopping was patriotic? Seriously, when? I missed that memo or store flyer. When gold ol’ George W was running this country into a third world nation, three separate times he told Americans to go shopping when faced with national peril.  Remember? Right after 9/11 he told us, “Americans must get back to work to go shopping, to go to the theatre, to help the country get back on sounder financial footing”.  He did this twice more. Once in 2006 when gas prices were inexplicably spiraling upward threatening a recession and again in 2008 when our country faced a  Wall St induced economic implosion. Shopping, that was village idiot’s response to all our problems just go shopping it’s the patriotic thing to do. Shopping and consumerism became all things for Americans. It was sport, religion and therapy. Feeling bad about yourself? Go buy something you don’t need and put it on a credit card you can’t afford. Of course that “thing” was made in China because during Bush’s nightmare tenure, 47,000 factories closed in America. Not very patriotic is it? Wanna be a patriot? Buy only what you need and be aware of where it comes from. I’d tell you to “Buy American” but it’s almost impossible. So just don’t buy things just to buy them. Every time you buy a TV you don’t need, someone in Asia just lined their pockets and that country got to strengthen it’s military. You don’t need half the crap you buy. Honestly, did you really need matching “snuggies’ and “I’m with stupid” night shirts? OK, maybe you did Mr. Steele, but not the rest of you.

Waving a flag alone does not make you patriotic. Voting and being aware of how your actions impact America, makes you patriotic. I supported our troops when I was one. I served nine years in the U.S. Army. I vote with their best interests in mind. Being in the Army doesn’t necessarily make me patriotic but it does mean, I don’t have to put one of those stupid yellow ribbons on my truck to prove it.


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