Friday, July 29, 2011

The Importance of Patriotism

Patriot:  “One who loves his country and zealously supports its authority and interests.”

When you study the definition of ‘patriotism’ as defined by my old Webster’s Dictionary, you may be hard-pressed to understand why the belief in such a concept should be an issue of contention in the U.S.  And yet it is a subject on which Americans often find themselves divided along party lines, like so many other issues.  Those on the Right wear their patriotism proudly on their sleeves, while those on the Left often scoff, sneer or shrug at the notion of patriotism -- unless they’re running for office.  In that case they will claim to be patriotic but only after they redefine the term, saying that it really means “having the courage to be critical of one’s country,” or some such other nonsense.

The word “country” in the definition above refers to far more than the geographical territory upon which a nation exists, as evidenced by the phrase, “…supports its authority and interests.  The land doesn’t have “authority and interests;” but a nation does.  In other words, to be a patriot means to be loyal to a country in terms of its land, its people and the political system that represents its authority and advances its interests.

To understand the significance of patriotism, consider what happens within a family when a certain amount of loyalty does not exist.  A spouse cheats on a spouse, a parent fails to defend his child, a child ignores an elderly parent.  The family disintegrates.  Another apt comparison is a football team.  What would happen if players who are unhappy with the coach decided to get even by revealing their playbooks to the opposing team or by undermining the team’s strategy and purposely failing to do their jobs?  That would lead to the end of the team eventually.  In a country, patriotism is necessary to preserve and protect the nation as it currently exists. 

Let me repeat:  patriotism is necessary to preserve and protect the nation as it currently exists. 

Now let me repeat what I said above:  those on the Left often scoff, sneer or shrug at the notion of patriotism -- unless they’re running for office. 

If patriotism is necessary to the preservation of a nation as it currently exists, AND if the Left downplays or even derides the notion of patriotism, what can we conclude from this?  There are two possible answers:  (A) Those on the Left do not comprehend the importance of patriotism to a nation; or (B) Those on the Left do not wish to preserve and protect this nation as it currently exists.

Answer (A) fits perfectly with my theory of the Left as being psychologically immature.  Someone with the mentality of a child would not necessarily grasp the importance of patriotism, just as they may not understand what loyalty means to a family.  While this is not a crime, it certainly begs the question:  Is there any place for the Left in our government if they do not comprehend the necessity of patriotism?  I would say the answer is a big, fat “NO.”

Answer (B) also fits my theory of the Left as being immature for a couple of reasons,* but the bottom line is this:  The Left does NOT support the authority and interests of the U.S. government as defined by the Constitution. 

Two final thoughts:

Being a patriot does not necessarily mean that you tow the line, by agreeing with and/or abiding by the actions of the individuals who are in charge at any particular moment.  Patriotism means loyalty to country and to a political system, not necessarily to any one individual.  Working within the established political system to remove or neutralize the power of an individual can be patriotic if the ultimate goal is to “zealously support [the country’s] authority and interests.”  On the other hand, actions that are contrary to the design of the political system OR that ultimately undermine the original design or intent upon which the country was founded are not patriotic. 

Finally, what of those who do not agree with a country’s political system and so do not wish to support its “authority and interests”?  Is that a legitimate position?  Sure it is.  But it’s not patriotic.  It may be understandable.  It may be brave.  But it is not patriotic.  The rebels in Libya are fighting to replace the current political system with a preferred design of their own.  Their interest is to be in control of the land and the infrastructure, not to promote the authority and interests of the country as it currently exists.  They may be noble in their intentions – who knows? – but they are not patriots for Libya.

In sum, patriotism is a necessary element to the long-term survival of a nation, but you don’t have to take my word for it, just observe the actions of those on the Left.  We can already see that they perpetually engage in activities to undermine the Constitution and crack the foundation of this nation.  If they trivialize and ridicule the notion of patriotism, it can only be because they wish to deprive this nation of something that is necessary to its survival as it presently exists. 

* In the case of the U.S. Constitution, one would have to be immature not to recognize that the Left has never offered a superior alternative to the system of government we currently have.  Secondly, the desire to destroy the world’s most successful political system (theoretically speaking, anyway) for the sake of acquiring power and control for oneself, with no regard to the consequences, demonstrates a child’s absence of wisdom, a child’s lack of conscience, and a child’s need to indulge his own ego.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On Same-Sex Marriage

The same-sex marriage (SSM) debate, IMO, boils down to this question:  Who owns the term ‘marriage’ and who has the right to define it (or re-define it) on behalf of our entire society?  

My old Webster’s Dictionary from college defined marriage as “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.  Today, Word’s dictionary defines it as, “a legally recognized relationship, established by a civil or religious ceremony, between two people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners.”  When did this transition occur and on whose authority?   

Whereas the original definition was based on centuries of human behavior, accepted social practice and a history of law on the subject, it seems the new definition is to work in the reverse.  The elites and special interests will decide how marriage is now defined, and people will behave accordingly.  If you see nothing wrong with that process, consider what would happen if a group of white supremacists attempted to unilaterally re-define the word “human” to apply only to Caucasians.  This would incite outrage, and rightly so.  That should illustrate the dangers of any one group co-opting terms that affect us all.

In order to answer the question as to who should decide the definition of marriage, we need to begin at the beginning.  Marriage is not a “right” in the sense that free speech is a right.  It is merely a process that makes possible and sets forth the conditions under which societies will agree to legally recognize a union between two people.  If all local governments suddenly decided to get out of the marriage business, a couple wanting to marry would have no recourse to the federal government.  Marriage is not addressed in the Constitution, which is consistent with the nature of that document.  The founders steered clear of promising to protect the kind of “rights” that placed an obligation on other citizens, as marriage does.  So how can SSM be a “right” if marriage in and of itself is not a right?

Now let’s talk about civil rights and discrimination.  Some people claim that to disallow SSM is discriminatory.  First let me say that marriage is discriminatory by design.  It leaves out same-sex couples, children and close blood relatives because the intent was to facilitate the unions of adult men and women as a means of promoting a certain foundation for society.  If defining marriage as a union between men and women is discriminatory, then what is the legal basis for making it off limits to children and close blood relatives?  In fact, what would be the basis for any restrictions whatsoever? 

I also disagree with the notion that marriage discriminates against gays due to the fact that no one is prohibited from marrying on the basis of their gender or sexual preference.  One could claim that gays don’t derive the same benefit from their access to marry since it is limited to the opposite sex; however, since when is the government in the business of guaranteeing that we all receive an equal benefit from those things we are legally entitled to do?  It’s not.  Someone who is seven feet tall probably does not enjoy the same comfort when riding a city bus as someone five feet tall.  That’s too bad.  Not everyone gets to marry someone rich and goodlooking like Brad Pitt.  Can they claim discrimination?  Certainly they aren’t receiving the same benefit as if they married a poor guy who looks like Michael Moore.

So if there’s no basis for instituting SSM under the Constitution or the Civil Rights Act, we’re still left with the question:  who should decide how marriage is defined? And the answer is simple:  We, the people, should decide.  If we can agree on that much then the reasons each one of us may have for being in favor of SSM or for not being in favor of SSM are irrelevant.  To stipulate otherwise brings us right back to square one, where this or that group claims the right to define what marriage is for all of us based on the superiority of their own reasoning.

Now having said all that and made the case for a democratic approach to the issue of SSM, be assured that the Left has no intention of allowing that to happen.  They want to be the ones who decide how marriage will be defined.  They do everything they can to avoid a vote so that they alone can impose their will on the rest of us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What Makes a Right a Right?

There’s a lot of discussion over at Townhall, and I’m sure it’s the same on other conservative blogging sites, about the origin of our “rights.”  Some say our rights come from God, some say they are derived from the Constitution, some say they come from nature and some say they simply exist and are not granted or bestowed on us by anyone or anything.  In reality, none of the above is true.

What makes a right a right – what gives it value, in other words – is the mutual agreement that such a right exists and/or the ability to defend that right. 

Consider a scenario in which two people are stranded on a deserted island with no expectation of being rescued.  Now suppose that the stronger of the two demands that the other work as his slave, or else he will kill him.  If the right to life and freedom were truly unalienable, then the weaker fellow need simply assert those rights and the problem would be immediately resolved, correct?  In reality though, if the stronger man does not agree to those rights and cannot be held accountable for depriving the weaker man of them, then those “rights” are meaningless and may as well not exist at all.

It is the Declaration of Independence which declares that, “…all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;” however, the mere declaration of such rights is not sufficient to establish them.  If it was, then we would also be enjoying the right to free food, housing and medical care as per the declaration of such rights by one resident leftist over at Townhall.  Anyone can declare themselves entitled to “rights,” as the Left frequently proves.  Going back now to the DOI, England did not agree that our right to liberty was “unalienable.”  We had to fight to defend it, with many learning in the process that the right to life is not so “unalienable” either.  Ultimately it was only the demonstration of our ability to defend those “rights” that preserved them for the remaining Americans.

The Constitution does not “grant” us rights; however, it does three vital things that give us the best chance for being able to exercise certain rights.  First, it defines those rights with specificity, the founders having undoubtedly understood that specificity is key to enforceability.  Next, by incorporating the Bill of Rights into the Constitution they established the presumption of mutual agreement by virtue of citizenship.  It is this presumption of assent that then makes it possible to establish a means to defend those rights by way of due process and our justice system.  Brilliant?  That’s up to each of us to judge, but what it says to me is the founders astutely understood the intangible and precarious nature of “rights” and the problems associated with both guaranteeing and not guaranteeing them.

Ultimately our “rights” are only as good as our ability to enforce them.  Keep that in mind whenever someone presumes to declare what their rights are.