I pledge allegiance to the flag: True patriotism isn’t blind obedience-it’s social activism

As the Fourth of July approaches, I’m spending a lot of time reflecting on the meaning of the word “patriotism.”

To me, patriotism doesn’t mean love of symbols. To me, patriotism simply means love of country.

As the Pledge of Allegiance makes clear, our flag takes its meaning from “the republic for which it stands.”

Our flag stands for us. Our flag stands for the values enumerated during the founding of this country: liberty and justice for all. Our flag should not stand for shame, injustice, war and hopelessness.

During this Fourth of July, we should work toward building a better society, one that more readily exemplifies the ideals for which our country stands.

Along with the fireworks and hot dogs, I have a few suggestions of how we can show our patriotism.

A USA Today/Gallup poll recently showed that 57 percent of the American public now recognizes that going to war in Iraq wasn’t worth the results.

If you are among those who recognize the failure of this war, you can join in the anti-war movement.

Despite all this political talk of an “exit strategy,” we all know that we’ll be in Iraq until the American people demand we leave.

The American government may be the most powerful political force in the world, but there is one group of people that can stop their domination: you, me and the rest of American society.

The student anti-war movement essentially ended the war in Vietnam. If you are a patriot and love your country, your duty is to oppose unilateral and illegal war.

Celebrate our forefathers’ removal from the oppression of British tyrants by protesting our current tyrant.

After all, it is our tax dollars that are paying for Bush’s real-life game of Risk. We have a right and a responsibility to hold him accountable for that.

If students wish to keep their protests local, they can show their patriotism by protesting injustices at the state level.

During his campaign, Gov. Huntsman pledged to end Utah’s tax on food.

It is entirely unjust that foodstuffs are still part of the state sales tax. The food insecurity rate in Utah is one of the highest in the nation.

A 2000 tax commission report found that Utah’s poorest residents paid a total of $25 million in sales tax on their food purchases. Removing the sales tax on food is an important step toward helping low-income Utahns afford food for their families.

To hold Huntsman to his promise, a local anti-poverty organization is organizing a petition drive this summer to remove the tax.

To help, visit www.crossroads-u-c.org/CORC.htm.

These are only a few of the ways that modern-day patriots can help improve society, as the injustices that need correction are innumerable. The important thing to remember is that it all starts with what we do today.

We can sit back on our recliners and celebrate the birth of our democracy by popping open another cold one and watching parades-or we can fight to take our country back from those who have hijacked it from us.

This country is too important for us to let it be derailed by those who are not worthy of its leadership.

Take pride in your country and actually work to fix it.

That is real patriotism.

[email protected]