Dateline: 4 March 2014
|The Ukrainian Revolution—|
Was it sponsored by the United States?
I have often quipped that the best way to learn any subject is to write a book about it, and researching early American patriotism was no exception. When I began compiling my group of vanishing spirits with patriotism at the head of the list, I at once began learning. . . As I researched and analyzed the subject ... I soon realized that patriotism has become all too closely related to war: the most patriotic people in history (like the Nazis) were always the most warlike and ruthless.
Great thinkers, I learned, very often frown upon patriotism, and the more I thought about this spirit, the more I too wondered about its real values. “This heroism upon command,” wrote Einstein, “this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism—how intensely do I despise it!” One philosopher called patriotism “the religion of Hell.”
I had never regarded patriotism in such a light, and I began to think. I remembered my first encounter with pseudopatriotism about half a century ago while I was a student at military academy: while folding the flag at sundown with a fellow student, I had accidentally let it fall to the ground. “You son of a bitch!” my helper cried. “You let the American flag touch the ground!”
That was long ago when obscenities were treated as obscenities and I wasn’t going to allow anyone to call my mother a dog. A fist fight followed and I still carry a small scar of the incident. I suppose it was a mini example of how wars start, where there is as much punishment to the punisher as there is to the sufferer, all in the name of patriotism.
In the beginning, the word patriotism came from the word pater (father) and patriotism was “a quality of respect of one who is devoted to his family in a fatherly fashion”: it had little to do with war or nationalism. Therefore I offer that the word patriotism be substituted whenever possible, by the word respect. I find respect to be the vanishing American spirit most worthy of return to our beloved nation.
Respect for family, respect for the nation and the land, respect for the flag and the law, respect for mankind and respect for oneself—these have been outstandingly wanting during the last few years. Within the family, within the nation and to all other nations, the only hope for the survival of civilization is respect or love for one another.
“The Spirits of ’76” (1973)
Eric Sloane probably wrote those words in 1972, when opposition to the Vietnam War was in full swing. More and more people were fed up with what our country was doing on the other side of the world. I still don’t understand why Americans had to fight a war in Vietnam. Ifanyone else can give me a good explanation, I'd like to hear it.
|President Obama on the phone with Russian president Putin. The Obama administration has told the Russians there will be a price to pay for their recent actions. I don't trust Obama to do what is right and best for America in this situation.|