Mrs Wei On Patriotism

Here many people over-exercise their right to free speech. Everywhere bumper stickers shout at me: Have you hugged your child today? I brake for animals, Honk if you love Jesus! We support our troops! Say No to drugs! I am for America! But when they want us all to chant slogans and tie yellow ribbons to our houses, I plant my feet and say No.

Loyalty to one's land should be as natural as sap in the tree whose roots know the earth which gives it sustenance. It is not a hair ribbon to run to the store to buy when it becomes fashionable.

Poems like Whitman's "For You O Democracy" are based on visions of what a country will become because of its politics, government, law or culture. Poems like Tham's "Mrs. Wei on Patriotism" are based on visions of what a country has stood for or symbolized because of its politics, government, law or culture. These represent atypical approaches to composing good patriotic verse —ones that bring us forward as a people, and ones that take us back to our roots.

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