R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Raising good Americans outside the patriotic vacuum

on November 12, 2013

Yesterday was Veterans Day. Thanking veterans and thinking about what they’ve done is important to me. Of course. I want my kids to admire people who make sacrifices for what they believe is the greater good. But I also want my kids to think about what the greater good means to them.

I love my country and the world it’s part of. And I’m not afraid of being shamed as a bad or ungrateful American for having conversations with my kids, at an age-appropriate level, about the many purposes of a military.

What do you think is the purpose of a military? Of war?

What do you think are some of the reasons people join the military?

What is patriotism?

How does war and a strong military help build patriotism?

What does patriotism do for a nation?

What do we gain from war?

What does war cost? Who pays?

Can we have fewer war veterans to honor in the future? How?

Is that something to work toward? Why or why not?

Most of us have veterans in our lives. I’m married to a war veteran whose dad was a veteran, as were both my dads. I don’t feel like I’m anti-American military. I don’t feel like burning the flag or organizing protests or moving to Canada. But I do feel very interested in helping my kids think beyond the closed loop of information I grew up with. I want them to develop a more global, more accurate perspective on lots of things, including popular culture as it relates to war hero worship.

I want my kids to think beyond the mistaken notion that everybody in the world wants to be an American. Beyond the increasingly baseless notion that we are the greatest nation in the world.

I want my kids to be able to articulate what makes a nation great. I want them to think and talk about what makes a good citizen of our country and of our planet. It’s important to me to expose them to controversial ideas while they’re developing their own big picture and thinking about how they fit into that big picture.

I want my kids to love their country, but not blindly.

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5 responses to “Raising good Americans outside the patriotic vacuum

  1. elaratester says:

    Well said. Being an informed citizen and thinking critically about our policies and priorities are patriotic acts.

  2. Dave says:

    I’m struggling to find a reason for war other than making rich people richer at the expense of others. I honestly believe that if we didn’t have to support the military and the military industrial complex, we wouldn’t have wars.

  3. Emily says:

    I just think you’re the freakin’ coolest. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you.

  4. Chris Ruff says:

    I Love this and see no reason for anyone to say it is sad…………………

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