My Patriotic Duty
"May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion, wrote Thomas Jefferson. Compassion, he said, was a central tenet of the American Revolution.
I have found a new patriotic duty for myself, it is uplifting and satisfying and very serious. I am willing to sacrifice for it, it is, I believe at the center of the conflicts roiling our country.
Each morning, I sent an inexpensive gift from the Amazon Refugee Gift Page to some of the newly arriving refugees to the United States. The cost ranges from $1.99 to $50.00.
I have never defined myself as a patriot before, that seemed a historic term for the brave visionaries who launched the country and a word used by opportunistic and hypocritical politicians who talk about patriotism but seem to have no idea what it means.
This morning, I did my patriotic duty by donating a Muslim Prayer rug for $1.99. Last week it was a teapot soccer ball, kid's socks and a stroller. This kind of patriotism is inexpensive and simple, I don't have to spend a freezing winter out in the cold or dodge bullets from soldiers. But it is important, nonetheless.
I have always thought of America as a compassionate country, at least that was a goal and aspiration, something we wanted to be even if we weren't always. We welcomed the needy, the poor, the weary and the persecuted. We felt both empathy and compassion, compassion, the idea was embedded in our Constitution in many ways. Liberty is a profoundly compassionate idea, as is equal justice and freedom for all.
Those are selfless ideas, they are meant to create a country that cares about people and wishes for them to lively freely, securely and with opportunity. We have not always been compassion to everyone, but still, it was an idea that united many of us, and caused many people to fight for this country in many different ways. We have always come back to it, even if we stumble.
Our government was compassion to my family, it opened the gates, let them in, protected them, gave them opportunity.
Today, it seems we are disconnecting from these ideas of compassion, turning inward, selfish, angry at the very people we have always been compassionate towards, blaming them for our troubles, fearing them for their strangeness, ignorant of their nature. We are all competing to be victims, turning on others who are helped, on people we have always helped.
It is rare in America to find someone taking responsibility for their lives, their troubles are always someone else's fault.What would Jefferson make of this evolution of patriots into angry whiners?
This is a difficult and painful turn for me, and I believe it is my patriotic duty to resist it. I am a patriot now, I never thought to describe myself in that way. A patriot, after all, is a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. I vigorously support my country and the moral principle of compassion, and am prepared to defend it against enemies and detractors.
I have resisted the flight from compassion in a variety of ways. I marched with women. I am working with refugees. I will soon be mentoring a refugee family. I am standing in my truth. I am showing up, like so many others.
I am fighting for a return to compassion in our politics, personal lives and interactions with one another. For now, this is my focus, my response to anger and rage. One thing at a time, one person at a time, one value at a time.
This is what the U.S. Committee On Refugees And Immigration refugee donation program is all about. Compassion. Standing in one another's shoes.
Jefferson saw compassion as a moral duty for the patriot.
"When we come to the moral principles on which the government is to be administered, we come to what is proper for all conditions of society. I believe that morality, compassion, generosity, are innate elements of the human constitution; that there exists a right independent of force."
So compassion, is, in fact, a patriotic duty, and for the first time in my life, I feel like a patriot, I have a good cause, to return compassion to our lives and way of governing. I do not believe compassion was meant only for ourselves, it is defined by helping others.
If you feel the same way, please considering donating a Muslim Prayer Rug for $1.99 or a teapot, blanket, soccer ball, coffee maker, stroller, kid's socks, Amazon gift card, comforter, pots and pans to the good people arriving in our new country, battered, exhausted and fearful that they have become targets once again.
I am not too busy with my own affairs to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion. Compassion is one of the moral principles on which our government is to be administered, and I am grateful for the chance to do my patriotic duty, and repay my country for all of the good it has done me.
You can help welcome the new refugees and join The Army Of Good here.