OPINION – In the glow of the red, white, and blue, amid the fervor of patriotism that surfaces every time Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day roll around, we are left in a quandary as self-described patriots embrace, encourage, and incite others to take up arms against the federal government.
Patriotism? Sedition? Treason?
At the very least, it creates an uneasy strain on the U.S. collective psyche, scars the soul of those who encourage and strive for free speech, only to see it turn ugly, crude, disrespectful.
The mounting tensions between us is only exacerbated when we see others ready to create another militaristic standoff against the feds over something as dumb as a Wyoming rancher being threatened with fines for violating the Clean Water Act and for building a dam across a federally owned, navigable body of water without approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.
As we learned elsewhere, the owner of the eight-acre ranch says the issue “goes a lot further” than a pond, and that he will not pay a dime in possible fines levied, even if forced into bankruptcy.
And so, this gentleman becomes the latest poster child for the “I Hate Obama” crowd, spurred on by Fox News and the simple-minded who have latched on falsely to such tenuous issues as indications of how they say the feds want to ruin our lives.
It’s nonsense, of course, but rings true with those who wrap themselves up in the Flag and a Constitution they deign as handed down by God, a Constitution they believe is hanging by a thread and in need of rescue, even if it involves bloodshed.
We see references to the Founding Fathers, references to ancient men from ancient times whose concept of democracy and a republic were much different from the needs of a modern world.
During a recent discussion with several of these self-proclaimed Constitutional scholars, I was insulted when dismissed by one who brazenly said: “The mask of government benevolence has slipped and a growing number of Americans are beginning to recognize this. Government has become the aggressor and we are not obligated to prostrate ourselves before those who violate their oath to uphold and protect our God-given rights.”
My “friend” went on to add: “What the irrational are saying is of no concern to me.”
Me, either, which is why I dismiss that argument, as well as the person, in their entirety.
I mean, if you are going to draw down on the federal government, you better have more valid reasons than standing to support a guy who hasn’t paid his grazing rights in more than 20 years and another who is willing to throw down because he violated two federal laws.
I pondered this over the weekend as we paused, hopefully, in somber remembrance of those who gave their lives in defense of this nation.
They didn’t buy their duty uniforms at the military surplus shop, didn’t purchase their weapons at the neighborhood gun shop, didn’t stand up for a small segment of humanity. Instead, they liberated the Philippines at Leyte, Mindoro, and Luzon. They liberated France on the shores of Normandy, the streets of Paris, in Provence and the Vosges Mountains. They liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. They fought bloody Civil War battles to preserve the Union, fought the Great War to defend Europe, and suffered greatly in less popular conflicts in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
A sense of duty, coupled with a love of humanity, drew them to harm’s way, from which many never returned.
Would they, if they were still among us, tolerate those today who are willing at least verbally and for show, to take up arms against a government they died to uphold or would they realize, as some of us, that these are not patriots, but anarchists whose only motivation is to interpret the Constitution for their singular gains or as an outlet for their hatred and anger?
Granted, they would be the first to speak of the right of these self-described rebels to voice their displeasure and opposition but there would, I am sure, be a line drawn in the sand when violence was introduced into the equation.
They would, I am sure, be distraught over the current course of politics and polarization that exist today, but would not conceive of taking up arms in a rebellion without a legitimate cause.
They would be believers in our Constitution, but would not look for self-serving loopholes to enhance only their own lives.
And, unlike many poseurs who talk the talk, but do not walk the walk, they actually did put their lives on the line in defense of liberty and the welfare of mankind. You see, it goes hand in hand. Liberty cannot exist unless it is directly connected with the welfare of all mankind and not just a small segment of the population. It’s a crooked line, to be sure, but to secure liberty for all, freedom, peace, the pursuit of happiness, all factions of this rock we call home must have access to their own freedoms as long as they cause no harm to others and are dedicated to the advancement of mankind in general.
We need, to coexist as a structured society for without it, we yield to whoever has the most bullets or greatest might, and at times, the heads of that civilized society will anger those who placed them in the seat of power.
But, that does not mean we advocate for radical upheaval to satisfy the selfish desires – mistaken as rights – of some who would willingly abuse the freedoms we enjoy and it does not mean we dismiss out of hand those who walk with peace and reason for they are patriots as well whose sacrifices may not be as extreme, but are often painful nonetheless.
That is meant, in no way to diminish the lives lost in combat, the horror and scars that remain, but as a reminder that really, truly, we are all in this together and that this attitude of “you’re either for us or against us” is futile.
Otherwise, we bury the goodness of humanity with those who died trying to preserve it.
No bad days!
- Memorial service honors those fallen, recovered, yet missing; Cedar City News Photo Gallery
- Native Americans’ Memorial powwow: ‘We fought as brothers;’ STGnews Photo Gallery
- Memorial Day observed at Hurricane City Cemetery
- From ally to US patriot, WWII French Freedom Fighter remembers; STGnews Videocast
- Memorial Day: Governor orders flags lowered
- Monument honoring Lee ‘The Flagman’ Warren unveiled, dedicated
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and may not be representative of St. George News.
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