Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

For America we Fight! aka Americans fighting each other.

As long as their have been nations, governments have been sending their sons and sometimes daughters off to war, to fight for the country. Most of the combatants were conscripts forced into battle by threat of death of the government they were protecting if they did not. Other combatants were from the elite of the society. Nobility and the upper class that owed their allegiance to the sovereign and in return received land and favors. Certainly there were those who fought for the pride in their homeland but in reality the homeland reflected a common ancestry, a common people, and synthesizing the concept down to its basic, in essence, protection of the tribe.

 The United States presented something different. There was no common ancestry and we are certainly not from the same tribe. Rather, we are a conglomeration of people from all over the earth choosing to live together and enjoy the same basic ideals. It was these ideals of freedom, justice, opportunity and democracy that united people and actually made them proud to go off to war in the name of the United States and to defend the country. Yes, fighting for America meant fighting for an ideal; a better way of life; and a bond that this country represented for best that human kind had to offer.

 In the name of this country, the United States, strangers fought beside each other to protect the flag. Lives were given up in the name of the country and although the soldiers were of different races, religions, ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic classes, they were Americans fighting for American ideals.

 Over the last dozen years we have sent our youth to fight in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. When hearing them talk when they return, they constantly speak about fighting for one another. Probably that is how it has always been when soldiers go off to war. Others speak about a job that they must do and that they have been trained to do the job. Some talk about fighting to protect this country, but protection is not an ideal. It is a pragmatic necessity.

 The reason why we bring this up is because last month we all got to see the sideshow that is our government in Washington, D.C. How many of us would really go off to fight in war to protect the ideal that is our government in action? Who wants to fight to protect the dysfunction, let alone the polarization, that is rampant in our democracy? Which one of us is willing to die to protect a government that is willing to shut down because of partisan bickering?

 The ideal that was the United States where even though there was bickering between the parties we were all Americans fighting for American good, no longer exists. “Give us your tired, your poor” reads the words on the Statute of Liberty. Yet, the Tea Party and its advocates nearly bankrupted this country and caused economic turmoil throughout the world because of their aversion to health care for all. These same people have promised that in the next round of government fisticuffs, which is to come within the next 90 days, that they will attack the Food Stamp and similar programs. As they see it, it is wasteful spending. Would I really want to send my son off to war to fight for these people, who are willing to destroy our country because of their ideology that I have nothing in common with?

 On the other hand, I am sure these people feel the same way from the opposite perspective. They view Washington and our current President as the enemy. The real Americans live in the center of the country with the east and west coast not understanding true American values. They are just as likely to want to destroy our President as much as they would be willing to fight in his name. They view the shutting down of the country as a logical exercise of democracy in order to save the homeland. Would they be willing to send their children to fight for the country that they see before it?

 The reality is that our country has gotten so polarized that the fringes now control the center. We, as Americans, have traditionally met in the middle, compromised, and maybe not feeling great about the decision, felt great that we were able to make a decision together. Now, ideologues and zealots control the debate and moderation and compromise are signs of weakness. It no longer is one America, but a growing two separate Americas. There no longer is one American ideal and therefore, unfortunately, not one ideal that we all can be proud of.

 Maybe this American ideal was always a fallacy. Maybe it meant something different to all of us but we just didn’t know it. Maybe we were blissful in our ignorance believing we were all on the same page. Now we realize we are reading from different books.

 There are so many songs that talk about being proud to be an American. But unfortunately, many of us are not willing to be proud of Americans that do not agree with us. Being an American used to mean something. Now, more and more, all it means is that the person occupies a geographical piece of land located on the third planet from the Sun and unfortunately, unless we change, nothing more.

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