"No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots." -- Barbara Ehrenreich, The Worst Years of Our Lives: Irreverent Notes from a Decade of Greed
Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of affluent, upper-middle-class retirees. The host's estate was extensive, his home was airy and spacious, original art graced the walls, and the guests ranged from dignitaries to activists from the civil-rights era.
I had been invited to lead a discussion on ways to minimize political polarization and find common ground, and I agreed, hoping that these people -- who are well-educated, well-connected and well-to-do -- would want to get involved in the freedom struggle and effect change within their spheres of influence. Instead, I came face-to-face with those I've been writing about for years: materially comfortable, disconnected from reality, and totally oblivious to what's been going on in the American government as far as the erosion of our civil liberties and the amassing of power by the federal government.
I quickly realized that what these people call "polarization" is actually Americans challenging the status quo, especially the so-called government elite. To my surprise, I found myself on the receiving end of a group lecture in which I was reprimanded for being too negative in my views of the government. I was also informed that I need to have "faith" in our leaders and refrain from criticizing our president because Americans still live in the best country in the world. In other words, my patriotism was called into question.