the art of patriotism

We are eight days away from arguably the most consequential election in American history. 

As if the presidential election wasn’t enough pressure, add to the mix a global pandemic, raging wildfires, the worst hurricane season in decades, and riots in the street just to name a few. 


Through it all, it seems we’ve become so focused on who we’re fighting against that we’ve lost sight of what we’re fighting for

This post isn’t an endorsement of one school of thought over another, one party over another, and especially not one candidate over another. 


Rather, this post is a humble collection of observations I’ve made over the past few months. 


Even more so, it’s my best chance at somehow processing and sharing with you what is going on in my head and my heart.


What does it mean to be a patriot?

Does it mean standing up to tyranny? Yes. 

Does it mean leading the fight for freedom around the globe? Of course. 

Does it mean loving your country enough to sacrifice so that others can enjoy freedom? Absolutely. 


But these aren’t the only attributes of a patriot. 


I love my country, and I bet you do too. But, we don’t have to always like America to love her. 


Some pretty terrible things happened this year. 


We’ve seen destruction. We’ve seen horror. We’ve seen injustice. We’ve seen death.


We’ve also seen unity. We’ve seen support. We’ve seen progress. And we’ve seen life in a new way. 


If we look back at history, each list is not without the other. 


This is simply the next chapter in our story. But now the question becomes:

Who will write it, and what will it say?


If you ask the farthest left liberal or the farthest right conservative if he or she a patriot, they’ll likely both say “yes.”  If you ask them if their respective counterpart is a patriot, they’ll likely both answer, “no.” 

But how can this be?


Each of their actions, ideals, and beliefs are polar opposites from each other, yet both take on the term “patriot” with endearment and pride.


Why?


Because both of them love their country. They just show it in very different ways.


How do you love your country?


Some fight on the battlefield and sacrifice in war. 

Some abstain and protest that the war is unjust. 


Some run for office and enact political change. 

Others campaign or vote for the opponent in hopes to alter the direction of leadership. 


Some enter law enforcement to put bad guys away. 

Others become advocates or legal counsel representing the wrongly convicted or accused. 


I could go on, but I think you get the picture..


It’s easy to see each other as the enemy, but let us not fail to realize the majority of us are acting out of the same place in our hearts: a love for our country.


I recently spent a week in Los Angeles with my sister, Hollin. The city is still on a relatively strict COVID lockdown and wildfire smoke filled the air.


It wasn’t your typical trip to the City of Angels.


Rather than to simply enjoy my vacation there, I made a conscious effort to soak in as much of the atmosphere as I could.


Until I could have no more.


The night before leaving Los Angeles for a three-week road trip out west with my girlfriend, I woke up in the middle of the night and began to type a poem with tears streaming down my face. 


I don’t know why I had to write it that night, but I’m glad I did.


You’ll find it below.


---------


“But she’s mine” by Hamilton Winters


A toxic breath fills my lungs

I find it hard to breathe.


The forests burned by cigarettes

A crying from the trees.


I hear a horn from right behind

A finger says the word.


No mercy on the interstate

I get what I deserve.


See the homeless in the streets

They claim that they want change.


They say society looks them over

And capitalism is to blame.


They burn the flag, they paint the streets,

They chant America is out of time.


I know she’s not perfect, but she’s mine.


A little girl starts a lemonade stand 

She sells to all who’ll buy.


A man in a yellow sundress

And a woman in suit and tie.


Millions come from far away

They seek a second chance.


Most are here in good faith

An American romance.


The poor get used, the rich build wealth

But success you still can find.


I know she isn’t perfect, but she’s mine.


Factories pollute the air 

The clouds aren’t clouds at all.


The shores get battered by Hurricanes

I always dread the Fall.


There’s litter on the sidewalks

I dodge as I walk past.


Safety is now a political stance

To wear or not wear a mask.


We’re dying from the inside.

Can we ever be refined?


I know she isn’t perfect, but she’s mine.


Landfills rival our highest hills

Recycling seems such a waste.


Just bury it with other trash

Or dump it out in space.


Our cities are the deepest blue

Our states are bleeding red.


When protests clash and emotions run high

Someone winds up dead.


Why can’t we be like other places?

They seem to get along.


Defund the police, get rid of crimes

America’s behind the times


I know she isn’t perfect, but she’s mine.


Disasters strike around the globe 

To whom do nations turn?


They take her aid with open hands

Yet long to see her burn.


The world says hers is a heavy hand

A bully to the rest.


But when evil rears its ugly head

She puts it to the test.


Her story isn’t pretty, 

but her story isn’t done.


She might not win the battles,

But the wars she all has won.


Is her story over? Is she wearing thin? Does she have what’s left to fight? 


Should we pack our bags? Should we leave this place? Should we just turn off the light?


Or is she worth protecting still? With all her scars and flaws.


Do you only see the bad effects? Or do you also see her cause?


Now is the time for us to choose what her future has in store.

Will it be of peace and loving pride or will it be of hate and war?


I know she isn’t always pretty,

but she is most of the time.


And I know she isn’t perfect, but she’s mine.


------


And she’s yours too. 


There are many ways you can show your love for our country. 


The best way is by casting your ballot on Tuesday, November 3 or before. I hope you will.


God bless you, and God bless America. 


Abundantly,


hw


P.S. When you go to the polls, keep this tweet in mind.