What Being a Patriot in Trying Times Means to Me

In my personal life, I have met abusers. I have simply decided not to allow them in my life anymore. I don’t hate them. I just don’t let them cause me any damage. (As much as possible.)

In my political life, it’s very similar.

Yesterday, a large group of scholars warned of the collapse of democracy. They called upon ordinary people to do what they can–even peacefully protest–to protect democracy. In such times, patriotism requires us to do extraordinary things.

We need patriotism when fascism is rising. We need to set good examples of what our country is about. I am far from perfect on this, but I decided a while back to not hate my political opponents.

Don’t get me wrong: Fascism is evil.

However, if I hate fascists, I allow hate to consume me, and don’t present a good example for my grandchildren and generations to come.

It’s just like with abusers in my personal life: I try to minimize their presence in my life and continue to live the best life I can while protecting and loving those I care about.

Now more than ever, we need a good example of what America is and can be. It’s an America where people feel comfortable speaking Spanish in public, where Black lives matter, where we honestly discuss things.

That doesn’t mean we have to sit down and have a beer with far right conspiracy theorists. If you want to do that, feel free. But I probably won’t be. I have too many other people in my life who need my love and support–many of them marginalized and very much at risk. Patriotism, to me, is supporting those most vulnerable. It’s about triaging who needs you the most right now and, for me, it’s the ones I love.

There is no excuse right now to vote for Trump. One cannot say that one agrees with his proposed policies because he hasn’t any. If you decide to vote for him anyway, I don’t hate you. But, to be clear, I don’t fear you, either. I know that the arch of justice is long. I am in it for the long game.

You may not think it’s fair to have to rise above the tactics of the opposition. Why, after all, do those wronged always have to take the moral high ground? I’m here to tell you that you can matter-of-factly and vehemently disagree, but you do not have to let hate consume you. You will, in fact, probably be better off and able to help those who need it if you aren’t filled with hate. That doesn’t mean you have to placate fascists and tyrants.

Peaceful protests are always better. Doing violence only hurts your cause. Speak up for the oppressed and be a good role model for what America can be.

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