Love thy neighbour.

Patriotism. It has been called everything from the refuge of the weak-minded to the greatest virtue. Patriotism though cannot be defined so simply. We all have our own version of that concept. We understand it differently through various mind prisms of life experiences, upbringing, religion, philosophy, and metaphysics.
The reason many of us define patriotism differently is because people disagree on what is most important to their country. I have a number of friends who claim to not be patriotic at all because they do not like the way things are and want them to change. I would posit that this is still patriotism. They want things to be different, to be better for their country and regardless of whether their particular beliefs are right or wrong or whether they consider themselves patriotic, they are patriotic.

Here is my recipe for healthy patriotism.

Social Contract.
As members of society we tacitly or explicitly (especially in cases of immigration) accept the social contract of our respective societies. Citizens of the United States of America pledge allegiance to the flag and constitution. Citizens of Canada pledge allegiance to the Queen and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But the society is so much more than that. We sometimes forget that there are certain national cultural values that exist and it is *our* responsibility to know them and respect them.

Civility.
We are all different. We are all snowflakes. We look differently, we think differently, we express ourselves differently. Perhaps it is not so but it seems sometimes that we have are losing the tradition of civil discourse. We do not discuss, we argue. We listen just long enough and attentively enough to object. Let us get that back. We will all be better for it.

Civics.
One of the problems that is observed throughout western societies is that people are not well versed in the subject of Civics. We do not sufficiently know how our own countries, our own governments function. There are a couple of wonderful videos where actor Richard Dreyfuss explains the importance of that subject. So rather than let me try to do it, I will turn it over to the master:

Education.
Education is the cornerstone of a successful society. How can we even begin to understand the concepts of governance and patriotism without knowing the history of those concepts. This does not mean that I value humanities over science. The logic inherent in science, especially mathematics and physics is paramount to being able to reason logically about subjects that cannot be easily defined. They are also important when it comes to understanding economics. Claiming to be a patriot but not to care at all about one’s country’s economic and monetary policy is an insanity, especially in the light of the current recession and its causes. Everyone apparently has a opinion on what the governments should do about the recession but ask many of the people what their thoughts are on the current monetary policy of their government or even who is in charge of it and you will get blank stare.

Freedom of speech and expression.
This ties in with previously mentioned subjects of civility, Civics, and the social contract. We can all scream and seethe at each other from our respective camps but that will not get us anywhere. Without being able to express ourselves, we cannot move forward as a society. And yes, I do count hate speech as an important function of this. I know IĀ  am about to lose great many of you but consider this: banningĀ  hate speech will not make it magically disappear. In fact, it is impossible to ban hate speech; we can only ban public expression of it. And that my friends, is equivalent to sticking our proverbial heads in the sand. Hate speech is rooted in ignorance and the only way to fight against it is with education not the with silence and ineffective laws.
I am not being merely academic about this. I grew up in the country where I was hated and discriminated against (sometimes publicly) based on my ethnicity. So I have experienced racism and I still say let the assholes spew their hatred. Forbidding them to speak in public will not make them change their minds.

So these are the ingredients for healthy patriotism. The cooking methods can be multiple but the constant must always be respect for others, knowledge to empower change, and earnest will to make life better for everyone and not just the people who agree with you.

Peace out.

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Day 24. Climbing On High. (Letter #6.)

My dearest love,

Today I have made another step in trying to move on. Clearly, the road ahead of me is hard and painful. I remember how just recently we came to this same place for rock climbing. Your excited face upon having completed a route stands before my tear-filled eyes as if it happened mere seconds ago rather than months. You were scared first but You overcame your fears and I was so proud of You and happy for You.

I have loved rock climbing for years but now it does not feel the same without you by my side. The smell of chalk, the burning skin of my palms from gripping the rock, the spectacular views,

image

nothing gives me pleasure anymore.

How do I forget You? How do I love again without You? How do I just start taking pleasure in things I have always loved?

Tomorrow is another day and everyone keeps telling me that very soon I am certain to meet someone who will love me as much as I would love them.

But all I want is You! All I want is your love!

Will I ever see You again? Will our lives cross paths? Will You cross to another side of the street if you see me coming?

As much as I wish to stop loving You I do not want to stop loving You. How could I not love You?

I miss You. I want You in my life. And I still love You.