In this column we're careful not to become too political. We try to write about values that cross all lines of political persuasion, race, creed or color. Too, we speak to dads — sometimes both parents — to encourage them to see things from their teenager's perspective — and vice versa. So, politics aside, we very much take issue with the resurrection of a sentiment that is infiltrating our society: "America, love it or leave it."
What goes around comes around
We're old enough to remember when that same declaration was popular back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was printed on everything from posters to bumper stickers. It eventually faded away as so many slogans do that express the notion that we all must think the same way if we live within a common border. That sentiment sucks the humanity and individuality right out of us. Who would ever accept that kind of mindless existence?
Silence is not golden
There are people in this world who welcome and support this philosophy. They're called tyrants. Nothing guarantees their power with more certainty than silence and blind obedience.
To stand up and speak out for what you believe is sometimes painful. You risk being laughed at, abused — verbally or even physically — or just ignored. Imagine the alternative. What if people never spoke out or questioned anything? What if we merely shrugged our shoulders at unfairness, injustice or degradation?
"Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles," quipped drama critic G.J. Nathan.
Parents are the role models
People across the globe are suffering ridicule and torture because they dare to speak out against tyranny. But we don't need to point to extreme examples on the other side of the world. Exercising one's right to criticize ought to be encouraged at school, church, even within the family circle. Dad, do you practice your right to speak out at work? Would you buy into the idea that if you didn't love all aspects of your job, you should leave it?
How about at home? Do you allow for diverse, even unpopular, opinions? Do you and mom instill independent thinking in your children — and allow them to disagree with you respectfully?
People who suggest that we either love it or leave it haven't thought through what they are saying. Blind obedience is a scary thing. It's driving with your eyes shut. It's standing by while someone is being harassed. It's complaining — under your breath.
Aldous Huxley, the British novelist, said, "One of the great attractions of patriotism — it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and to cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous."
We like our slogan: America — love it so much that you want to make it better.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Email them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.