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Twain's Thanksgiving

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2001 by RDFollendoreIII

November 22, 2001

Today is a day for each of us to give thanks.  I am thankful.  I am thankful that I have food to eat and shelter over the head of my family.  I am thankful that America still exists.  I am thankful of the news that America has overturned an evil regime in Afghanistan.  

But an individual that can only see a glass half full can not fully expect to be as thankful next season.  Yes, today is a day for giving thanks but it is also an appropriate season to express concern. 

I am concerned by what can not be found in the news.  I am concerned that the concept of patriotism is once again being abused, and no one else seems concerned.  I am troubled by the lack of public outcry and protests about the loss of freedom.  I am concerned that our great country has lost a sense balance.  I am concerned that the balance has now has shifted too far.  I am concerned that too few Americans understand that to be a patriot, you must first be a good citizen.  I am concerned that the basic idea of citizenship has eluded Americans in favor of public opinion. 

I am reminded of a great American citizen who once wrote...       

"Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel -- and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy I heard repeated and repeated time and time again the phrase, 'My country, right or wrong, my country!' How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country.

In the public schools we teach our children to salute the flag, and this is our idea of instilling in them patriotism. And this so-called patriotism we mistake for citizenship; but if there is a stain on that flag it ought not to be honored, even if it is our flag. The true citizenship is to protect the flag from dishonor -- to make it the emblem of a nation that is known to all nations as true and honest and honorable. And we should forever forget that old phrase -- 'My country, right or wrong, my country!'

We say we have public opinion in America. We have none. We only think second hand. How many of us are there to-day who know whether it is better for the country to have a tariff or free trade? The only opinions most of us have on this subject are the opinions derived second hand from certain men who seek to influence us to their way of thinking, and their way of thinking is generally in a direction that will subserve their own private ends or the ends of the party which they represent. So, you see, we have no citizenship, and our so-called patriotism is a patriotism that is employed for the benefit of political parties and is made a party cry."  By Mark Twain

It has been 100 years since you wrote the above three paragraphs, Mr. Twain.  It is remarkable that the issues are exactly the same and the truth endures.  Let us all be thankful that someone spoke the truth.

 

 

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Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved