Monday, April 27, 2009

A reply, and a thought on patriotism

Hahaha! No, there's no hidden message, unless the "pick your five" program is secretly a communist front.

Dan - I put Ghana as number one because fufu and chicken broth is the most incredible meal of all time; and because the people there are the kindest, most generous folks in the whole world - hands down!

That being said, one of the main reasons I love this nation is the form of government we have. The constitution and the bill of rights were designed by the framers to protect each and every one of us, individually, from the tyranny of government. To enhance our protections from the laws of government, the framers separated the central government into three distinct branches, correctly predicting that those separations would slow down and even discourage government tyranny. So this idea of individual liberty, based in property rights and natural law, gives me great pride when I dwell upon the land I come from.

It is this idea of individual liberty and freedom, and the enactment of such an idea through secession from the British Crown by revolution, that makes my heart beat faster every time I think about the fact that I am a citizen of the United States. Our liberty is envied throughout the world. Our freedom to work hard and save our money is looked upon by other nations as admirable. Our culture, our music, our arts, and our rebelliousness are dutifully watched and re-enacted by billions of young people around the globe. In fact, our very name, which represents the dreams of all peoples wishing to be free, has produced some of the kindest smiles I have ever encountered in my travels. From the countryside of France, to Fair Verona, to the charming capital of Portugal, to the humblest villages of western Africa, the American idea of liberty is wholeheartedly loved.

Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who traveled throughout the United States during the Jacksonian era, observed that there are two kinds of patriotism. One is an instinctive patriotism, where
“there exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart…to the place where the man was born…It is a sort of religion itself; it does not reason, it believes, it feels, it acts.”
This instinctive patriotism reigns in nations with a centralized power structure, run through a top-down approach by an aristocracy or monarch/dictator/Caesar, which is inevitable in a centralized, bureaucratic political state.

Tocqueville described the other type of public spirit as a reflective patriotism:
“There is another more rational than that one [instinctive patriotism]; less generous, less ardent perhaps, but more fruitful and more lasting; this one is born of enlightenment…it grows with the exercise of rights, and in the end it intermingles in a way with personal interest. A man understands the influence that the well-being of the country has on his own.”
My patriotism is a reflective one. I love this nation; I love the system of limited government that was designed to protect us from tyranny. I love sense of awe I get from foreigners when they find out where I’m from; but this does not mean I will stand by silently and watch the government breaks its own laws to enhance its power over the lives of every individual citizen. I will not meekly accept the status quo of government lawlessness. I do not accept the socialist doctrine that our elected leaders are there to protect us through new legislation. Our representatives are there to abide by the Constitution, thus protecting our inalienable rights.

  • Only Congress can declare war. Without a declaration of war by our representatives, our foreign intervention is lawless, and therefore has no moral justification.
  • Only gold and silver is legal tender. Printing paper money to bail out big corporations and banks is illegal. Printing paper money to finance a massive welfare state is illegal.
  • Cruel and unusual punishment is strictly prohibited in our laws. Torture and imprisonment without charges are illegal.
If nobody raises hell or even discusses the government breaking its own laws, we will suffer the fate of many civilizations that have come before us: behold Leviathan!

Tocqueville, who survived the bloody revolution of 1848 in France, had this to say on the decline and decay of public spirit:
"...sometimes a moment arrives in the lives of peoples when old customs are changed, mores destroyed, beliefs shaken, the prestige of memories faded away, and when, however, enlightenment remains incomplete and political rights are badly secured or restricted. Then men no longer perceive the native country except in a weak and doubtful light; they no longer place it in the soil...nor in the usages of their ancestors, which they have been taught to regard as a yoke; nor in the religion that they doubt...nor in the legislator whom they fear and scorn...they have neither the instinctive patriotism of the monarchy or the reflective patriotism of the republic..."
This is what I see today in America. Apathy. No passion. No public spirit. No respect for history. No respect for that which is old or sacred. In a nation as great as ours, this is just a shame...

1 comment:

Papa Dan said...

Well-written Brandon. It's great to know that many young folks like yourself are skirting the temptation to follow leaders that are skirting the law in their so-called leadership. I guess I am a somewhat mix between the two types of patriotism probably because of most importance to me is my Godly belief and love for my fellow human beings. (I recognize the beauty and simplicity of those good people of Ghana--Matt and Amy are just coming home from there after visiting your uncle and aunt as you may know--they will have a similar story to tell I bet)Anyway I've come to know in my heart that there is a God and no other pursuit in life that doesn't revolve around that belief will afford the joy and comfort that we simple human beings are looking for. I could say more but not only am I not much of a writer; I have to get to looking for a job. Unfortunately lost mine last week. Will survive (faith in Higher Being to help) Hey Brandon; stay positive and close to that young lady Anna. She appears to be a winner. Dan