I am the product of a good education, provided mostly in the public school system where I learned enough to know that this country has its strengths and its weaknesses. I learned that this is a land governed by laws and traditions most of which I can support. I know that the basis of our government is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. And I know that this Constitution was written by a group of individuals who were, collectively, very wise men with great vision.
From that Constituion as well as the many amendments and laws established therefrom, I know that it is my right in this country to be free from persecution because of my religious beliefs. I know that it is my right in this country to be protected from harm, to expect just treatment, to read a free Press. I know that it is my duty to pay my taxes, and more importantly to express my responsible opinions through the election of individuals to serve as the lawmakers and administrators of the government which exists for the purpose of representing all our people. I know that this government and its laws support and are supported by the three branches of our government and its enormous infrastructure that has grown from the very simple beliefs stated in the Preamble to the Constituion.
I started to learn these concepts and began to build my beliefs starting over 50 years ago and, although modified over time, I still trust that this method of government is right for this country and its peoples.
I am a very insignificant member of our society; a very minor Patriot who still cries at parades and becomes incensed at injustice. I rarely engage in political debate with anyone nor do I rant and rave about what I believe about this land. I just go on believing in the inate goodness of people and the principles upon which this country is built!
I have had the good fortune to be educated mostly by Patriots too. Not the blind, irrational type of Patriot who argues that anyone who disagrees or disapproves is not only wrong but somehow evil. No, my teachers were Patriots of the first order. Men and women who recognize what history has taught, who understood not only the facts of history but also its failures. Teachers willing to share their knowledge and insight with scores of young children to help them become responsible, rational, reasonable and realistic citizens as adults. Teachers who, despite its failings, love this country.
I may be extraordinarily fortunate in the combination of teachers I encountered over the years, nevertheless, there are four women from whom I learned specifically about America.
Sister Rita Therese (4-5 grade), Miss Gamoche (6 grade), Mrs. Smears (Junior year), and Ms. Shaw (Senior year). These four women taught me what they believed in including that love of country. I doubt that any one of the four would look at what is happening in government and politics currently and not be concerned for the future of our country and its form of government. I know I am.
*Where are the men and women of reason?
*What happened to leaders with integrity, honesty, compassion, and wisdom?
*How could so many American People have so thoroughly misjudged many of the people they then elected??
*Why did "me" become so much more important than "we"??
*When did rhetoric become the driving force rather than wisdom??? *Would an Abraham Lincoln or a Thomas Jefferson even get elected today???
* Where is compassion, open debate, the exchange of rational ideas without insult and rancor??
* How can we teach our children the repect and love of country that we learned?
I have purposely NOT expressed my opinion on any particular issue, nor have I identified specific individuals or parties or organizations or ideologies that I support or do not support. My concern is much more widespread. It encompasses all levels and facets of government (and some of business too). Where will all of the divisive, abusive, non-constructive, self-serving activities lead us to?
The Mrs. Smears I mentioned taught a class called "Problems of Democracy" in the high school I attended. I believe all "college prep" students were required to take the course. She was a wonderful teacher and knew more about this country and how it worked than anyone I had ever known. I loved her class. We had challenging and interesting discussions and different opinions were listened to and debated with participation from practically everyone.
From Mrs. Smears I learned the concept that a government cannot rule without the consent of the governed. In essence what that means is once a government - be it monarchy, theocracy, democracy - oversteps the bounds of power, the people have a divine and/or human right to renounce said authority. If they take no action to renounce that government, they are giving their consent to it's continuation.
As I recall Mrs. Smears was talking about communism at the time. Nevertheless, the concept fits all forms of government. You may wonder how this relates to the rest of what I was saying. The bottom-line is that once a government no longer represents the will of its people and that country's people become divided enough, angry enough, unhappy enough, they are on the road to withdrawing their consent from their government. That could never have happened in the country I grew up in; there was no need. (The threat felt then was external, not internal. Everyone worried about the dreaded communism and the Soviet Union!) At the time both the government and the people were still acting responsibly and rationally. But now?? Well, now I'm not so sure.
I am certainly no seer into the future. Neither am I trying to predict that our government will topple. I am merely asking questions that I have no answers for.
All I know is that "this is my country" but I fear that it is no longer the country I have believed in all my life....and that worries me.