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July 7, 2017

Red, White, and Blue

The evening of the fourth I was a couch potato and watched the concerts and fireworks from home. I think that is pretty "American" to start with. I switched the channels from DC to New York to Boston. DC was pretty much as usual. No better backdrop for the day. I did note that the headlining Beach Boys only had one original member, Mike Love. (Bruce Johnson I guess is almost). Still can't get use to a skinny guy about 30 replacing Levi when the Four Tops came out, though it was great to see Duke young as ever. 

New York was cool and a lot more hip. Boston tends to be a little more "upper crust" perhaps. But I tuned in anyway for the finale The 1812 Overture, canons and all. Wonder what the President thought of the tea party town with an American conductor, a Russian composer, and Chinese fireworks? 

As I thought about the meaning of the joyous celebrations, it occurred to me that perhaps patriotism and religion have something in common. Although, it is certainly true that too often the lines between them have been unfortunately blurred and used for petty and even demonic political ends, we should keep in mind they are two very different things. And be ever mindful of which comes first in our lives. But they share the truth that their outward displays are only a small part of their essence. 

Flag waving and worship are perhaps ten percent of the matter at best. The rest is what is inside and how it daily comes out the other ninety percent of the time. Worship, to us of course, has a much broader definition than just church attendance. We believe everything we do is in its own way an act of worship. This keeps us on our toes.

Nothing wrong with flag waving, songs of valor, celebrating one's country and traditions, and honoring and remembering those brave brave souls who serve in our military. Their sacrifice burns in my heart. But to me the soul of patriotism has to do with my belief in sensible gun regulation, acceptance and honoring all faiths, not tearing apart families, economic opportunity and security for all. If I recall the preamble of the constitution correctly, we are doing OK in the "common defense and liberty" areas ( US spends 600 billion on defense, China 200, Russia less than 100). Its "justice, domestic tranquility, and the general welfare" we have to do some work on. Here's hoping our patriotism is up to the task.

 

Bob Bell

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