Patriotism based on hope, not fear

Patriotism: n. love for or devotion to one’s country.

I’ve never seen nor felt such an attack of patriotism as I did yesterday watching Obama’s Inaugural concert.  Al Rodgers over at DailyKos posted an amazing collection of photos from the event (warning – get out your hanky).

On of my favorite moments was when the unrepentent dear old radical Pete Seeger sang (with Bruce Springsteen) all the subversive verses to “This Land is Your Land” and the entire crowd of 400,000 sang along with him (undoubtedly the biggest sing-along of his career!). At 89 Seeger  has gone from being blacklisted as a communist in the early ’50s to singing on Washington Mall – by invitation of the President-elect.  It’s a NEW day.

seeger-springsteen

This concert was perhaps the most thrilling and inspiring event I’ve ever watched.

I’m still a total wreck from crying so much.

So many inspiring words, such a diverse group of presenters, such aliveness in the music.   It felt like the people’s party. All of us. Black, white, rich, poor, old, young. And the look of pure happiness and pride, relief and hope on the faces of everyone in attendance confirmed my own feelings.

Only a few more hours until America in finally in capable hands.

Meanwhile, back to the topic of patriotism, a concept that has been so twisted by the Right. Robert Creamer writes about this today at HuffPo (It’s so good you should read the whole thing, but here’s the crux of it):

It just doesn’t square with the right wing narrative. They painted Barack Obama as an unpatriotic, “terrorist sympathizing” candidate whose values are foreign to the American way of life. How could it be that his ascendance to the presidency should be the occasion for the new patriotic spirit sweeping America?

… I think there are four reasons why:

First and foremost, Obama and his call to service — to commitment — has touched our most fundamental self interest — our desire for meaning.  Obama understands that to have a real sense of significance, you have to have a commitment to something outside of yourself. You have to be willing to sacrifice. The right wing’s belief that if every one simply pursues their own individual interest the “invisible hand” will assure that the public interest is served doesn’t work in practice — a lesson delivered graphically by the 2008 crash of Wall Street. But more important, it doesn’t address our overwhelming need to live lives that mean something…

Second, Obama — his campaign and his transition – have been unequivocal in their willingness to hold up and unapologetically celebrate the principles that lie at the heart of traditional progressive American values: unity not division; hope and optimism not fear and cynicism; tolerance not prejudice; that it’s the right thing to help your neighbor not just yourself; that we’re all in this together — not all in this alone. They have refused to allow the right wing to claim the symbols of America for their nationalistic, exclusionary vision of “patriotism”…

Third, the new patriotism results from relief. Americans are relieved that they once again can be proud of the way their government acts in the world. Obama has pledged unequivocally to end torture, secret prisons, the practice of capturing people on the streets of foreign nations to “rendition” them (or disappear them) to other countries. He has pledged to end the Neo-Con doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emptive war. In other words he has pledge to return America to its standing as a moral leader in the world…

Finally, the election of Obama makes us proud of ourselves. We are proud that we have elected the first African American president. We are proud that from the all-white “Norman Rockwell” communities of Iowa; to the roadside bar with “Rednecks for Obama” on the marquee; to the suburbs of Philadelphia — our fellow Americans have been willing to put centuries of prejudice behind them. And we are proud that we have reaffirmed America’s founding principle: that we are a society that truly believes that all human beings are created equal; that America truly is a society where every child, of whatever background, can aspire to be President of the United States — or anything else he or she wants to be.

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2 responses to “Patriotism based on hope, not fear

  1. Incredible photos! My eyes are a bit damp now – you’d better get a big box of tissues ready for watching the Inauguration.

  2. What a three days this has been. Today should be a national holiday!