Marvin Repinski: Patriotism — A lost art

Published 5:48 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

Several areas of reflection guide my convictions as we move toward the Fourth of July. These seven thoughts are where I am in our country’s present situation and are helpful, at least for me, to negotiate a peaceful life. Maybe they will ring a bell for the reader.

ONE: The personal shaping of our beliefs and attitudes certainly are, in part at least, created by our early years. I can recall as a child when a relative was visiting our home for a few days while on leave from the army base. He was, as I was told, “in training.” My church had a few hymns that have positive words about God and country, and about our nation’s well-being. I, for some years, saluted the flag and sang “America the Beautiful” every week as a member of a Boy Scout troop.

TWO: Our nation’s history was taught in school and I developed both a curiosity and love. The lives of the Pilgrims were fascinating; Valley Forge stands out; the relationship with the people of color and Native Americans were both intriguing and confusing. I was a Sunday School child; how could we have slavery and possess so much land? But I remember care packages and ministers who, back then, I thought were good and positive for sharing what we termed the “Good News.” Our young minds seemed to stress that the Jesus who loved me was also the Jesus who loved “them.” It’s all bunched together in my memory. It’s like, what a nice country we have!

THREE: Some barriers to always being positive as we get older stand out. Most of us grow up and eventually find the use of certain words and terms offensive. Disruption to a sincere patriotism takes the place of dishonorable, crude descriptions or malice toward our neighbors.

FOUR: Institutions that teach a fruitful, caring, progressive nation enhance the love of our country. The clause, where the wisely employed, “The Separation of Church and State” favors all of us. The process — and it is a process of pushing along the convictions of our founding fathers and mothers creating a Democracy is a satisfying occupation.

It may refresh our Fourth of July thoughts in the study of John Adams, Dolly Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Margaret Fuller and Lucretia Mott, to better appreciate America.

Recently in reading a book on Abraham Lincoln, I was moved by one of his writings: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy — whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” The quotation is in Lincoln’s own handwriting and signed by him.

FIVE: Some examples of patriotic action include the support of public education, the equality of all citizens, the fair arrangement of districts and geographical areas for voting purposes, the availability of a fair distribution of registration and voting polls, the proper regulation and encouragement of and funding for private schools, Planned Parenthood, and the Title IX rule, which advocates for female athletic participation, the newly approved Supreme Court ruling on the provision of funds to private schools. My listing is partial but please recognize the spirit that I, as the writer, list them.

SIX: Loving our country is expressed in action, thought, study, and conversation in the past and future. Our country is a fabric of one nation under God.

My conviction is that we are not as divided — down deep — as the messages we receive seem to indicate. Am I dreaming? NO! But, my conviction is undergirded by our country’s history and the renewal of hope.

For some decades, a two-party system served us well. At least relatively well! We are a garment. A nation is like a person clothed in the Constitution led by honorable men and women. And we have grown on paper, to a recognition of a necessary acceptance of all citizens and new citizens. Like what? Gender, marriage, right to vote, encouragement to hold office and to continue to address forms of discrimination. There are rules but they take a lot of shared conversation and differing interpretation and practice, but — big but — if we as a nation are a garment, we do not tear apart the garment.

SEVEN: Personal resolves are always welcome. Freedom is a keyword, an important concept in the discussion of our values of one democratic society. It is a term founded and applied by the words of the Constitution. In living out of our application of this word, I counsel a reading that, within limits, may understand those who use the term  “growing document.” This is not to write off the original wisdom, but be aware of how to apply this document to new issues, a changing population, and realize the interpretations that exist within its wisdom.

The word rights and especially in our current days, women’s rights, are best addressed in a cooperative non-disruptive manner. We will continue to learn from the Jan. 6 riot at our nation’s Capitol. The questions, hopefully, will be addressed in a way that a cooperative spirit may emerge. I write about patriotism with the knowledge that America can grow in a love of country that may assure a safe and proud future.