Patriotism Is Best When It's Grown Up

‘Patriotism’ is one of those old-fashioned words that remind you of paunchy guys putting their hands to their heart while someone sings the Star Spangled Banner. ‘Cool’ is one of those new-fashioned words that fits young-studs who can tell you just how shallow are those flag-wavers. Somewhere between blind jingoism and cocky cynicism is probably the right place to be.

Here’s a test. “A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works!” You didn’t pass it…? Well, neither did I. And yet it would seem most of us older guys have a greater affection for flag-and-country than you cooler twenty and thirty somethings. You have to wonder why.

I have three possible explanations for the Cool:

* You didn’t live through the Great Depression & WWII
* You didn’t serve in the military
* You didn’t see enough of how Third World countries operate

That’s not some old guy trumpeting my-country-right-or-wrong. Not at all. Because you can be sure such VFW bravado is tempered by what we’ve learned about the madness of bravado. You can also be sure most of us have found out the hard way we really aren’t as self-sufficient as we once believed. We really are’t masters of the universe. And we really aren’t ‘the best’ like today’s slick motivational speakers are pitching.

When you’ve been humbled by time and defeat, you’re just a little more willing to admit you really shouldn’t take so much for granted. Not your own youth, your own genius, nor your own zeal. We’re better off understanding ourselves as cogs in a great wheel called Time. And there’s never been a cog that didn’t depend on the way it can mesh with the many others gears in play around it…


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