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Given the ‘state of the nation’ our founding fathers, those who authored the constitution and signed the declaration of independence, would be called rebels, unpatriotic, terrorists. The police state, FBI and CIA would have them under surveillance. There is no doubt about that. The men who pined their names to the declaration of independence were hunted down, many hanged, their homes and families ruined.

Some say, don’t’ be negative, don’t be cynical, color between the lines, accept it – this is the way the world is and has always been. Don’t cause trouble. Smell the flowers. Pet the cat.

Gandhi cared. Martin Luther King cared. Jesus rocked the boat. It takes both profound appreciation for this precious gift that being a human being is – and passionately drawing out the very best in ourselves and others every day. Sometimes, in the face of perverse selfishness, and corporate-governments are perversely selfish, greedy bullies, this passion takes the form protest which appears negative – but is indeed very positive.

The boys and girls marching off to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and next week Yemen feel they are being patriotic. The true patriot fights to support the principles that formed the country, not the corporate-government that profits from war. There is a difference. However, the war-for-profit public relations departments blur the lines. They professionally and passionately distort and have done so for generations.

To be a patriot is to question authority, to ask big questions, to speak up when the ‘system that profits’ betrays the principles we hold dear: to be truthful, peaceful, to care for the natural environment, to respect and honor the intelligence of children and become compassionate, heroic modes 24/7 for them.

To be such a patriot one must speak up, live a different kind of life, be an activists in our homes and communities and yes play with children and pet the cat. This is what real education would draw out of and model for children. It takes both.

Historian Howard Zinn on patriotism.

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