Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” so said Samuel Johnson. That’s close, but not accurate. Religion is often the last refuge. Evoking God or Jesus is bound to buy one a little more time.
The question implies, in the mind of many, would I be willing to die or kill for my country? Do I love my country above all other things or countries? Am I willing to defend my country and its sovereignty, laws, interest, ideals, and citizens? If that is what is meant, the answer is no.
I did all those things (I never killed anyone, but certainly in some measure helped). I spent four years in the military during the Vietnam War. The war of “body counts.”
When my enlistment was complete I came home to a life where I paid taxes and often overpaid. I never broke the law (one speeding ticket in 1976). I kept my property clean. I never protested against anything the government did or didn’t do. I always held a job. I was productive and took initiative to improve the products my company manufactured. I spent a lot of time in voluntary community service. My kids never took drugs, ended up in JD, and they likewise are productive tax payers. They were good students and didn‘t get in trouble. My wife was a stay at home mom for many years and spent many hours in voluntary community service. She entered the work force for about ten years and was a loyal and trusted employee.
My refusal and avoidance to vote or engage in patriotic ceremonies and events has been met with opposition, anger, puzzlement, ambivalence, and near violence and in some rare cases admiration.
I never thought taking illegal drugs was patriotic. I never thought driving after drinking and putting peoples’ lives at risk was patriotic. I never thought cheating on taxes was patriotic. I never thought lying to the government, a police officer, a judge, or a neighbor was patriotic. I never thought attaching an American flag on the bumper of your car so it is the first thing that can be hit was patriotic. I never thought taking an oath to office and then cheating those who voted for you was patriotic. I never thought rigging elections was patriotic. I never thought accepting or handing out bribes was patriotic.
There are a lot of people like that. They don’t wave flags. They don’t make brave boasts. They don’t say they love their country. Yet, they love their neighbor as they do themselves. That’s more than patriotic.
Patriotism tries to hijack the words of Jesus; “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” but fails to finish the quote; “Render unto God what belongs to God.” Jesus was addressing the patriots from King Harod at this particular time about paying taxes. The conclusion was that by all means one should pay taxes. Our life and existence belongs to God, not to Caesar or some sort of misdirected patriotism. The passage at Matthew 22:15-21 clearly shows what belongs to Caesar (governments) is restricted by the things owed to God.