Patriotism is not absolute nor well defined. It can't be prescribed and is personal.

We are told what it looks like to be patriotic. That it is about honoring those brave souls who have put their lives on the line to preserve this great land.

However, that definition is fallacious, limiting, and exclusionary. Eventually it becomes circular and inevitably misses the point entirely.

Patriotism is simple. It is about love of country. More importantly it is the conscious act of loving your country.

This reminded me of Season 1 Episode 4 of Scandal. Olivia Pope is tasked to exonerate the son of a good friend who has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman. By the end of the episode the mother is forced to reckon with the harsh truth; her son is a monster.

Stated plainly, we are that mother and our beloved Republic is the son.

In its rise to the top, the United States has repeatedly committed and failed to atone for numerous, well documented atrocities.

We respond to these facts like the mother selectively ignoring what is plainly obvious and focusing on those few redeeming qualities. We take shots at the messengers and ignore the disconcerting message.

We challenge their patriotism, citing circular definitions. We see their patriotism as a affront to our own.

But therein lies the fallacy. The real act of love of country is to deal with its monsters directly and honor those who have been affected. Patriotism is a conscious act. It demands that we make strong and informed decisions. It demands that we seek the message and challenge it on its merits not its packaging . It demands that we respect each other's right to demonstrate their love of country the a way that they see fit.

The unpatriotic person is the one who chooses to not confront the monsters. Like anything else, progress happens when we tackle our weakness and erase our blind spots. By definition, we will be stronger for it.

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