L'Abri Journals...ACGray

July 2004
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Patriotism - A Broader Definition

Whirling around in my thoughts as another July begins are the grand old flag, my brother Wilson’s special 4th of July birthday (rest in peace, dear brother), the blessed privilege of having been born in America, and the arrival of mature summer here on my side of spaceship earth.  It is a heady mix of nostalgia and hope and gratitude, of long ago summers remembered, of watching my trapezoid garden burst into glorious colors, of mirth in this midseason between seedtime and harvest.  “To everything there is a season…a time to heal… a time to laugh…a time to love…”  So I select the good times from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and offer up a Deo Gratis.

            Edith Holden informs us that July, the seventh month in our calendar, originally the fifth month of the year, was called Quintilis as the first century in the year of our Lord (Anno Dominus) began.  The later name of Julius was given in honor of Julius Caesar, born in this month.   The birth of a tiny babe in Bethlehem that same year split the ages in two (BC/AD).

Jean Ingelow might have penned these lines in July sometime back in the nineteenth century in celebration of the dragon-fly, often seen these days:

                              ‘Then the green rushes – o so gloss green,

                    The rushes they would whisper, rustle, shake,

                                 And forth on floating gauze, no jeweled queen

                   So rich, the green-eyed dragon-flies would break

                                 And hover on the flowers – aerial things;

                            With little rainbows flickering on their wings.

          This month of the birthday of our American Independence prompted my research and stretched my understanding of patriotism beyond nationalism.  Pablo Casals wrote “The love of one's country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?”   My own years of living in Asia and Europe echoes the sentiments of  William Shenstone who suggested that “The proper means of increasing the love we bear our native country is to reside some time in a foreign one.”   Harry Emerson Fosdick concluded  He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.”  Socrates wisely defined patriotism with these words: I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.”    “And Marya Mannes Subverse gave her understanding in touching verse:


              Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
               By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
               And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
               The lines of ink across the map turn red.

“God is busy building a race of men who know how to love.  I believe that the fate of the earth itself depends on the progress we make—and that the time now is very short.  As for what we’ll find in the next world, here too I believe that what we’ll discover there depends on how well we get on with the business of loving, here and now.”                                                                                  George G. Ritchie, Return from Tomorrow