I’ve never been a fan of categories.
On a recent trip with students, one of them was wearing a New England Patriots t shirt while our guide, a local from the country we were in, was explaining about how much he loves his country. This got me thinking of the differences in the two ideas.
One: a (mostly) pre-determined set of characteristics, a box or category that some people try to fit into, whether it is their truth or not.
Two: a verb in which all those characteristics are put into action plus some, allowing individuality in the way which a person shows love for their country.
I’m sure there are a lot of people for which there is a sort of Venn diagram where both one and two share many of the same characteristics. Which is awesome. Maybe it’s just me. I do not enjoy being told “you have to do this” or “you have to act this way” (unless there are safety concerns or something – I’ll always wear my seatbelt). I also dislike the “here are the rules to be in this category” meaning that if you don’t follow those specific rules, there is something wrong with you and you don’t belong. And so, I prefer the idea of an action. I prefer the verb form. The form which allows a little bit of leeway. The form that encourages someone to take action, to question what they have been taught or even who they have been taught by, to take a knee or climb a statue.
So, if someone ever asked me “are you a patriot?” I don’t know if I could answer “yes.” But I could answer that I do love this country. That I am acting with love and that my love is not constrained by predetermined characteristics. I love all the good things it is and it is through and with this love that I want to change the bad things.