A patriot is generally defined as one who, during the American Revolution, opposed British rule and fought for independence from that country. It is also more currently defined as someone who loves his country and will fight for it when necessary. Given the situation in the United States and the world today I define it as someone who upholds and defends reason over belief.
Sam Harris said of a majority of people in this country who think like the Moslems, “We too cherish the idea that certain fantastic propositions can be believed without evidence.” The Islamists jihadiis want their beliefs about the dictates of the creator of the universe to apply to everyone on the planet and are quite willing to kill anyone who stands against them. The “moderate” Islamists, those who actually believe what their holy book says, are willing to work through less violent means, usually, to achieve that same end.Radical Jews want the Temple rebuilt so that Jehovah will establish his Kingdom in Israel and destroy the world to save the righteous. Fundamentalist Christians are fine with this since their view is that it will be Jesus returning and everyone but “saved” Christians are going into the fire.
The Hindus, Zoroastrians, Mormons and all the other brands, families and aggregations of believers in the supernatural have their own ideas but they all have one thing in common. The absolute dependence on belief over evidence and reason. The patriot believes, with good evidence, the opposite.
The term patriot also stems from the Latin pater, which is usually defined as father. If one looks at the makeup of the countries in the world today, it is easy to determine which ones are the intellectual children of the United States. Those who have enshrined reason as their core principle. Not the ones ruled by monarchy or a religion, or a social ideology devoid of reason and human rights, but those where reason, evidence and basic human freedoms still prevail. But, what still puzzles me is why the fight for reason, evidence and basic human rights must continually be waged even in places where it forms the bedrock of the society and political system that protects those rights. Take, for example, the right of free speech.
The government cannot stop citizens from speaking their opinions regardless of how odious those might be to the people in power. We also take this to mean that other citizens also cannot stop someone else from freely voicing their opinions. However, as we see today, especially in the political arena and on certain college campuses, there are those who are protected by these rights who are quite willing to deprive others of those same rights.
Why do certain people work so hard to dismantle the freedoms that allow them to exercise their rights in the first place?
I think two main factors are at work here: belief and ignorance. Belief in ideas and propositions that have no support in reason or evidence. Ignorance because some do not know that beliefs and ideas must be capable of falsification and subject to evidence, and that reason is foundational to evaluating and understanding the truth or falsity of propositions. Ignorance is overcome by knowledge and reason but is everywhere attacked and asserted by belief. This is nowhere more apparent than in the two worlds of education and religion.
Spend some time on YouTube, a place where ideas and philosophies are not constrained by business or political agenda. The spectrum of ideas is wide: left, right, regressive, liberal, atheist, religious, straight, gay, in-between, stupidity and intelligence do battle on an hourly basis. It is in a free-wheeling environment like this that one can see, learn about and evaluate many of the forces active in our society and world culture today. Perhaps the most enlightening, and less gruesomely bloody, conflicts are happening on the colleges campuses in the US and Europe right now. Students encouraged and taught by a predominantly leftist faculty have become intolerant, screaming fascists blocking access to speakers with unpopular opinions, physically assaulting anyone who disagrees with their social and political agendas, shouting down free speech because any speech that disagrees with their agendas is “hate speech”. Don’t believe this, search for “free speech” or “SJW” on YouTube or Google. Watch and read. Then get back to me.
Spend more time on YouTube or Google and check out the current state of our global religious wars. Fundamentalists, both Christian and Moslem, flatly deny the validity or usefulness of science and knowledge. The Lord is coming back. Mohammed rode a winged horse to heaven. The earth is only 6000 years old. Women are the property of men. God will cure grandma’s cancer through prayer. Murder an apostate and get to rape 72 virgins in heaven. Eat this cracker and drink this grape juice and you’ll go to heaven even though you have lived your life as a serial killer and sex predator.
I could go on. And on. But, that would be depressing and tiresome. The real depressing thing is that people actually believe this crap. Both kinds. It is disheartening but we have no choice but to to continue to speak out against it, to oppose it wherever and whenever it raises it’s stinking head, to suffer the slings and arrows, if you will, because as Hitchens said, the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.
I am now old enough to have seen the rise and imminent fall of the left in this country. The old line liberals are either dead or have become so disgusted with the regressives who have taken over that philosophy and perverted it into a fractured fascist ideology that like me, have abandoned that ship and boarded the good ship conservatism. Politically, this year is going to be a real mess. Look who we have to choose from: Trump, a meat ego. Hilary, a hard line pol. Bernie, a raging socialist with no realistic policies. Cruz, a fundamentalist believer in the supernatural whom no one likes.
Jesus… (Metaphorically, of course.)
Praise Darwin and pass the ammunition.