The Patriotism of Listening

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. 

Thomas Paine wrote these words in December of 1776 … and of course they are as true today as they were then. And there are just as bittersweet, as we look over the ravages of America after some of the most historic floods, wildfires and hurricanes in our hemisphere in recent months.

We are in trouble. In the world, and in our hearts. We are, just like the patriots of 1776, yearning to be set free.

This time we are masters of our own destruction. We have called forth disruptive leadership on both sides of the aisle that sews seeds of hate and anger. We have allowed the full scale destruction of our environment, the systematic oppression of our minorities, and the sexual harassment and rape of our women. We have filled the global airways with video games and films that market widespread violence.

The current revolution we are in is just one more step towards our eventual bottoming out into total darkness. How that darkness manifests if not for me to say. I just know this is how life is. Things fall apart, then they fall apart further. Then they get so bad that finally we all stand up collectively and say we’ve had enough.

That’s what happened in 1776. And it could happen again now – if we care enough.

Back then the oppressors in the red coats with all the brass buttons were caught in a fight for their life by a bunch of scrappy, slightly disorganized farmers, merchants, settlers and craftspeople who refused to give up.

Back then we were a united front born out of the power of an inspiring shared vision. But first we had to bullied and beaten to the point of standing up.

If you look closely, we might be getting close to that point of shared vision once more. But now, more than 250 years later, perhaps we’ve learned a thing or two. Perhaps we’ve learned to talk over our differences … rather than to kill over them.

Nate Boyer is the former Green Beret and NFL pro who originally suggested Colin Kaepernick ‘take a knee’ to protest systemic racism in America. Recently, he posted this open letter on national media to Trump, Kaepernick, the NFL and America.

In the letter, Boyer writes:

“I believe that progress and real change happens in this world when you reach across the divide, you build a bridge, you swallow your pride, you open your mind, you embrace what you don’t understand, and ultimately you surrender …”

Boyer goes on to share recent messages from fellow service members who weigh in pro and con against taking a knee. They are a beautiful, very moving snapshot of where the hurt is on both sides.

Then Boyer concludes with this:

“So please, no more lines in the sand, not at home, not among our people. No more choosing sides, no more “for or against.” I believe our Veterans will be called upon to lead the way in healing the world and solving its problems; right now our country needs that more than I can remember. So I’ll be here, standing in the radical middle, doing what I can to continue fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. Let’s get this thing fixed together, you and me. I love you all with all my heart.”

De Oppresso Liber (This is the Special Forces motto, meaning “to free the oppressed.”)

If there was ever a time to come together, it’s now. I say this as the biggest wildfire in California state history has just displaced more than 100,000 people thirty miles from my home.

I say this to you now, in hopes that you, too, want to make a difference. Whatever you post on social media, or say to those who disagree with you politically or even environmentally … why not be kind?

Why not be empathetic and begin to listen to the other side instead? Why not begin to consider the other guy’s opinion.

I’m with Boyer. Let’s get this thing fixed together.

Facebook Comments