Because I so often actively criticize our government, I am frequently asked whether I “love” America. Don’t I feel privileged to have been born here? Do I just take all of the freedoms I was given at birth for granted? Don’t I know how lucky I am to be here?
Rhetorical questions like this invoke emotion in people because the idea of questioning one’s government or criticizing one’s country is utter blasphemy in the eyes of the average citizen. We are taught as children to salute the flag, declare the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing literal hymns to the United States of America. The only thing patriotism can be compared to is religion, in both blind faith and righteous condemnation. In church you’re taught to follow God’s Law (written by man), sing to God’s glory, and to purposely curtail your active critical thinking skills which tell you there isn’t an old white man in the sky who magically impregnated a virgin in order to sacrifice that very magical child for the sins of the world in order to keep us locked in a guilt factory forever. Questioning, doubting; these are tools of the devil. Criticizing, inquiring; these are the tools of the political infidel.
It is in our nature to create elaborate myths around our world and the mysteries it exhibits; so religion isn’t really a “bad” thing, per se. Likewise, it is also part of our nature to build hierarchies both socially and politically in order to both organize and alienate. One could argue it is also in our nature to rip each other to shreds with our teeth and nails; in many ways, religion and politics are just extensions of our physical weapons externalized in a game much more complex than simple torture or death: the game of psychology.
Being blindly allegiant to any group is dangerous, as it allows one’s self to integrate into a group where personal responsibility and critical thinking take a backseat to group conformity and loyalty. Think of how a politician is attacked when they change their stance on an issue. They’re called a flip-flopper, someone who doesn’t adhere to the ideals of the party, a person without loyalty or cause. We never stop to think that changes in opinions and ideals are a good thing, as it means the person in question is evolving or at the very least questioning something they once believed in. Everything you regard as fact should be questioned not just once in your lifetime, but on a consistent basis. Likewise, the adage you can never understand your own argument until you understand your opponent’s is something we should have adopted as the Golden Rule long ago. Unfortunately, we have more or less adopted Schopenhauer’s 38 Stratagems as how we run business these days-righteous dedication to one’s own cause or ideals with the systematic destruction of the opponent’s ideas and argument.
Religion and politics have long been bedfellows, and Christianity in particular was initially adopted in large scale by the Roman emperor Constantine I (Constantine the Great). Adopting Christianity as a political strategy affected both his usage of warfare in neighboring regions (you can collect more soldiers for your cause if you fight under the mantle of the same god) and to ensure his lineage would come into the Crown after his passing. The phrase “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” is easily applied here: if you’re the king of a country and you’re losing ground to a new religion, why not simply adopt it to win your constituents favor?
When I am asked if I love America, the question flies blindly in the face of what I believe in. I love America the way I love anything else: conditionally. Do I feel lucky I was born here? Often. Do I feel this luck allows the American government to be able to do whatever they like at whatever sacrifice it takes? No. Country lines are imaginary borders we have drawn onto land we don’t own to alienate and divide in order to manipulate. Have you ever thought about what would happen if there were no country lines? Party lines?
The ideal of unquestioning faith and unwavering belief in both religion and patriotism are the same concept. Do as you’re told, and never question it. NEVER question God’s law. NEVER question the effectiveness of the government. NEVER take for granted what you’ve been given. Beggars can’t be choosers, remember? And the choosers continue the climb the ladder higher and higher while the beggars stay at the bottom, crying thanks to those that throw the crumbs. It is like this whether you’re in church, in business, or on the party lines-you only get what you fight for. The question is whether you’re content with mediocrity, and how much blind faith you’ve got left.