We’re told today is “Patriot Day”.
But what does it mean to be patriotic? Why should one be patriotic?
It only makes sense to love a country or a government if it respects your sovereignty over your life.
The extent to which your government respects and honors your individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness is the extent to which that government deserves your loyalty and support — your patriotism.
9/11/01 was one of those rare days, like Pearl Harbor, when millions suddenly realized — in a flash, in a moment — what they stood to lose. While there’s nothing good about disaster and loss of life, there is something good about that recognition. “I have something to lose, and what I have to lose is important.”
What we have to lose is our freedom. Freedom has never been the norm of human history. It’s the most fragile thing there is.
Your liberty is the psychological air you breathe. Without it, no values in life mean much of anything.
Freedom does not come from democracy. A majority of our fellow citizens could vote in whatever they want — concentration camps, gulags, or a theocracy. I know people who would do so. Democracy is not the answer. Individual rights are. The First and Second Amendments may never be subject to a vote. The moment they are, we are over.
Freedom does not mean the ability to live in a world where nobody offends you. That’s what the terrorists hoped to accomplish. Their view was, “America offends us. We don’t like the way they live. They have no right to offend us. So we’re going to blow them up.”
You don’t have a right to blow people up just because you don’t like their choices, beliefs or attitudes. In fact, that’s what the whole right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness is all about — to prevent the people who wish to blow you up from doing so.
Rational people sometimes eschew “patriotism” because they don’t like the implication of blind obedience to an unstated or — worse yet — toxic goal. They sense, correctly, they owe no allegiance to any government merely because it holds power.
A government that respects individual sovereignty — your actual ownership of your OWN life — is the only one worth feeling patriotic about, and the only one worth fighting for.
That’s the thing we must never forget.
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