Throughout the summer I find myself doing more and more traditionally American things.
I usually start the season off with a barbecue. At that barbecue I undoubtedly serve hot dogs.
Hot dogs make me want to play baseball. Baseball reminds of being back home playing tee-ball, and home makes me think of freshly baked apple pie.
As I write this eating a piece a’ la mode, I reflect on how this sequence always seems to run its course each year leading up to and completed just in time for Independence Day.
This year however, I am troubled by the lack of true patriotism I observe around me.
It seems there are two types of people in the country right now, both caricatures of how the other side views them. They are fighters in a boxing match waiting for the bell to ring.
In one corner we have the MAGA-hat-wearing, resistant-to-change, politically incorrect, bigoted, neoreactionary title holder.
In the other corner, the safe-space-loving, ultra-feminist, hippie, special snowflake challenger.
I applaud and encourage anyone who gets involved in politics and takes the time to inform themselves about important issues.
But, informing yourself is only the first step. To complete the process you need to understand and refrain from demonizing the opposing view.
Demonizing is not patriotic and is unbecoming of any citizen.
This demonizing is easiest to see when discussing immigration.
Anyone who champions the rule of law or the process for legal immigration, even if they support policy change ending family separation, is categorized as xenophobic.
Similarly, anyone who advocates easier paths to citizenship and better treatment of asylum seekers, even if they support funding a border wall, is labeled a radical.
In 1940, Don Raye, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, penned the words to “This Is My Country.” So true were the words that he wrote back then that the song has become one of the most enduring and well-recognized patriotic melodies of all time.
The song has been praised for its inclusion of both native born and naturalized citizens: “This is my country, land of my birth. This is my country, grandest on Earth. This is my country, land of my choice. This is my country, hear my proud voice.”
Rather than trying to outsing the other side, we should focus on the shared love of our nation.
The song starts by saying it makes no difference if we hail from north or south because our hearts are filled with love for all.
You cannot love someone you demonize. We may be able to cheer alongside someone when Megan Rapinoe scores a goal, but as soon as extra time is up the excitement immediately fades when we start debating whether she should visit the White House or Congress after hoisting the World Cup trophy.
It is easy to get caught up trying to shout down the other side by hurling our self-proclaimed truth bombs bursting in their air.
But just like the glow of fireworks gets replaced by the stench of explosives, our spirited discourse reeks of hypocrisy.
The song ends with everyone joining in the refrain “I pledge thee my allegiance, America the bold, for this is my country to have and to hold.”
You don’t have patriotism inside of you if it is only roused once or twice a year for a sporting event or holiday. Patriotism is a persistent, and vigorous devotion to your country. That includes the freedoms it affords to you and those you disagree with.
Let’s unlace our red and blue colored boxing gloves and remember that this is an exhibition match.
The goal isn’t to hurt the other guy, but rather to work on our weaknesses and become stronger.
When you do something American this summer remember this is our country, “everything we love is here within her gates.” Let the apple pie fill you with true patriotic understanding instead of continued divisiveness.
As a middle child, Carly Roes has a fine-tuned sense of justice. A mother of two and master of none, she enjoys her experience one day at a time.