Patriotism an everyday act

Perhaps you saw the e-mail circulating on the Internet, encouraging everyone to display a flag-large or small-on 9/11. The e-mail talks about the terrible loss of life on Sept. 11, 2001, and of that there can be no question.

The stated reason for this flag display: "We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms."

Honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11, showing our support for the families of the victims, showing our troops that we support them and want to bring all of them home safe and sound-these are all laudatory reasons to show our colors.

Patriotism is a fine and noble attribute, but I sometimes worry that it is a fleeting value that we trot out now and then at sporting events, in parades, on Flag Day - or on an anniversary like 9/11.

Patriotism, though, goes far beyond waving a flag, wearing one in your lapel or having a bumper sticker on your car - all while ignoring the outrages of our elected representatives who are hell bent on stripping this nation of its democracy, restricting access to information, controlling the media, passing constitutional amendments against entire groups of citizens that a few of these politicians have decided violates their personal sense of morality, and kowtowing to the elite class in the country at the expense of the working classes on whose backs they achieved their wealth.

Waving the flag while ignoring the excesses of government, disparaging minorities, discriminating against others and engaging in self-serving actions that knowingly hurt others is not only not patriotism, it's a form of subversion.

We may rationalize our behavior by saying, "Oh, I'm only one person. How much harm can this do?" When you multiply those actions a few million times, you are subverting the words of the Constitution:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness-That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed-That whenever any Form of Government become destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness -

While the English used in the United States Constitution seems a bit awkward by our standards, the meaning is clear. We are all equal: black, white, brown, gay or straight, Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist. When the sitting government acts to destroy this equality or our freedoms, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.

The second paragraph of the Constitution states that we should not make changes lightly, or for transient or simple mistakes, and that we are willing to suffer a good deal, but when the abuses are ongoing and severe, it is the right and the duty of the people to throw off such government, elect new people and pursue our future security.

Patriotism is year-round

Patriotism is a continuous gesture, not something we do one day a year. It means that each of us must be aware of what is going on, locally as well as nationally and internationally. We have to speak up and tell our representatives what we expect from them; if they are not doing our bidding, then we must use the election process to make the needed changes.

Individually, we have to rid ourselves of divisive and discriminatory behavior and philosophies that can lead to the breakdown of society.

If you saw that e-mail and displayed a flag on 9/11, more power to you. But on 9/12, and every day after that, try to become a full-time patriot-through the policy of inclusion, and by being aware and involved in governing our country.

Mike Davis is a Seattle-based freelance writer. He can be reached at

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