When I was in the military flying 30 feet over the ocean's surface off our East Coast in order to sneak under the Russian spy ships' radar and take photos of their antennas before they could take them down, I would look up at the Russian sailor patriots taking photos of our plane.

When the kamikaze suicide pilot patriots crashed into our aircraft carriers at the end of WWII, what were their reasonings?

Why did an educated, industrious citizenry of Germany follow their Mein Kampf leader to their destruction, when most of today's Germans find Hitler's ideology revolting?

After the Philadelphia Eagles lost the NFL Eastern Championship in 1960, dozens of fans drove their cars out of town with guys sitting on the hoods putting out their index fingers and shouting " we are number one."

Richard Dawkins coined the phrase The Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind which means obsessively putting things into discreet boxes and labeling them in a way that does not reflect reality.

My patriotism in the United States of America stems from our Founding Fathers who did not want an authoritarian rule by a monarch who would decide for all what should be done, and all cloaked under the auspices of the Roman Catholic or any other church.

These were men who did not fear debate, but rather saw value in learning other points of view. They wanted a socratically derived form of a republic which would be adaptable to changing circumstances by an informed citizenry.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in the Federalist Papers said, " the three branches of government must be independent and no branch allowed to be more powerful than the other. It may be a reflection on human nature that devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government, but what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections of human nature."

An example of a true American patriot was Abraham Lincoln who was a gifted orator and who as the Civil War was winding down, could have taken advantage of the situation by fanning the fires of revenge against the patriots of the South. But he understood that we are all in the American experiment together and wanted to be worthy of our heritage from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. So at his second inauguration he said, " With malice towards none and charity to all, let us bind up the wounds of the nation." He stood up for the principles of America which he said was " the last best hope on earth."

Abraham understood that America isn't a melting pot which results in a homogeneous soup, rather it is a conglomerate of multicultural, multiethnic flavors all bound by a recipe laid out by our Founding Fathers that binds us into a heterogeneous unity. Margaret Thatcher said, " Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy."

This unique structure positions us perfectly to be the peacemakers to the world. We are, or at least could be, a shining example to other societies of open minded cooperation and tolerance. The idea is to help people understand our philosophy, but not to export it by force.

So being a global peacemaker is the reality that the patriot must concern himself with. On this enlightened self-interest could depend his society's survival. It is a higher level of thinking to concern ourselves with how the future generations will survive than just how we will survive.

In John Kennedy's inauguration speech he said, "And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America can do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. "

It is hard work striving for a world in which cooperation for the good of all, but without giving up the cultural heritage of each group, becomes a reality. But principles are what gives life meaning and purpose.

Our American principles of freedom and justice for all were derived from the ancient Athenian society and established here by our Founding Fathers. Making them work is our responsibility.

Joe Gerlach



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