How do your opinions compare?

We all have opinions about our country. While some of us are Democrats and others are Republicans, and while some are Libertarians and others are right of the Tea Party, we can generally all agree on certain aspects of the American government and our basic freedoms. Nobody wants our rights taken away and we all want to be good patriots, but what is a good patriot?


“Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen…” and nothing would seem more certain than this. That is what one well-known American had to say recently, but not all are in agreement with his point of view.

“How can that be?” you might ask. Protecting the country, the Constitution and the countrymen would seem to be the highest priorities for a true patriot.

He added that we also need to look out for “encroachments of adversaries, and those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries.  They can be bad policies.” There are many Americans who believe that bad policies are hurting the country. Ask anyone who claims to be in the Tea Party. They will tell you that Obamacare is killing this country. Ask many on the left and they will tell you lack of gun control is killing our children.

But this is not the sort of thing this well-known American is talking about. It could just be “simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”


So the encroachments on our freedoms could be the sort of thing that intrudes on our privacy.  “If we want to be free, we can’t become subject to surveillance. We can’t — give away our privacy,” he told a reporter.

But is that what we are doing? Are we no longer free if we allow the government into every aspect of our lives? Is it right for them to collect data on our computer use, our telephone calls our visits to neighbors? Shall they put cameras and sound recording equipment at major intersections? Should they fly drones over our houses to see what we are doing? What is to be done to preserve our American way of life?

“We have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say — there are some things worth dying for. And I think the country is one of them.”

The problem would seem to many that the average person is not an active part of government. People do not vote. They do not become educated on government policies, although they may re-post misleading graphics to Facebook. They do not protest the encroachment on the things we think are protected in the Bill of Rights. They do not speak out.


Some may believe that we have to give up liberties to stay safe, but this American will question whether recent historical events “justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up.” It is a tough issue, to be sure. Do you think we should give up freedoms to the government without proof as to why this should be? What about the Fourth Amendment?

It would seem the Fourth Amendment might be encroached upon by some programs at home. Do we really believe “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated?” If so, are recent actions of the government violating this idea?

This American does not necessarily disagree with the government’s need for surveillance but adds, “It’s the dirtiness of the way these things are being used. It’s the lack of respect for the public.”

So do you agree that is the problem with government programs? Are some policies bad, or at least the implementation of the policies, because they do not hold respect for the American people? These matters of government programs and their effects on our lives are a sticky business. Do you think things are worse because Obama is the President? Do you think things were worse when Bush was the President? Do you think we would have been better off with Romney or Mrs. Clinton?

Consider carefully and think to yourself how well you agree or disagree with the quotes above? It seems hard to disagree with an American who is defending American beliefs. Do you agree surveillance is necessary for freedom? Are you disloyal if you disagree? Now ask yourself, are you a good American? If you are a citizen of this country my guess is you think you are a good American. Are you a real patriot?

“Do you see yourself as a patriot?” Brian Williams asked this well know American, now living overseas.

“I do,” Edward Snowden replied.

If I now told you all the quotes above are from Snowden, what do you think of them?  Could your opinion possibly have changed about those patriotic quotes?

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional


  1. You can’t really make absolutes out of concepts that are subjective. As our individual nature seeks to interpret these ideas, we come to understand their meaning in relation to our own experiences. Mr. Snowden may have acted in accordance to what he believed to be a patriotic way, but in doing so he also paid the price of being labeled a traitor by the laws enacted in this country with the same intention of protecting the country’s integrity. In my opinion, There is no absolute way to judge, but there is a necessity to take a proactive stand when you think your rights are being violated. Apathy is our worst enemy. So long as we feel comfortable with our lifestyle, not many people will care to be actively involved in the shaping of of laws and regulations, no matter how intrusive they may appear to others.


      1. You can’t tell precisely what the guys who wrote the Bill of Rights intended by the wording — nor did they want to make it that simple. From their diaries and other notes, each had his own idea of what it meant — and might mean in the future. The only way they could agree on anything was to make the wording a bit vague … which has come to mean flexible. I believe it was all about compromise. No compromise, no constitution.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. If there was no compromise there would have been no Constitution or Bill of Rights, and there certainly would have been no Declaration of Independence. You see, I did watch 1776!


  2. I don’t think that for the framers of the bill of rights there was anything vague at all in what they wrote. Each one of these statements speaks very clearly to abuses that had driven many of these mens’ families out of Europe. The Bill of Rights is saying, “We will NOT be THAT.” Most important and most difficult to articulate is that the government would not control the people but the people would control the government. I don’t think that’s equivocal at all taken in a historical context. The last two articles make it clear that the PEOPLE need to be responsible for making sure the government doesn’t usurp their rights. The paradox is that if the people do not CARE if the government usurps their rights, then that is, right there, the will of the people. As we move toward what looks to me like consensual totalitarianism (based partly on a volunteer military) I don’t imagine much resistance. We can do that — Alexis de Toqueville essentially predicted that the downfall of a democratic system would be the rising to the top of mediocrity simply because it outnumbers everything else.


    1. If constitutional interpretation were that simple, we would never have needed all those subsequent amendments or, for that matter, a supreme court. There’s plenty of information available about what the constitutional guys had on their minds and they were very very far from in agreement on much of anything. NOTHING is clear except for one thing: they did not want to repeat the mistakes made in the Articles of Confederation. NO term limits, NO volunteer amateurs running the country. Their goal — their STATED goal — was to make government service enticing so that men would want to pursue lifetime careers in government.

      Second amendment? Arms and militias? That was the south trying to protect itself from slave uprisings.

      George Washington refusing a third term? Only because the press of the day — even more free-wheeling with the truth than it is today (imagine Fox News as the BEST of the bunch!) — drove him out. He swore that the worst thing you could do to a man was make him president. He wanted nothing so much than to escape back to his farm.

      You don’t have to guess at what they were thinking or why they wrote the Bill of Rights and Constitution as they did. There is tons of information, notes, diaries, private and not-so-private papers where these men wrote their thoughts, opinions, hopes and fears for future generations. Not light reading, but the information is out there if you are seriously interested.


  3. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what went wrong with our country or what caused it to deteriorate. Our moral values have sunken to an all time low IMHO. We throw the baby out with the bathwater. We’ll fight to save a whale stranded on a beach but buy goods from nations that fish the oceans dry. We demand civil rights, workers rights and tenant rights yet buy our good from countries with none of these rights. What kind of shining beacon of a country have we become? It kind of appears we’ve become a paper tiger that speaks with a forked tongue. 😦


    1. Early American history is not a shining beacon of anything. We had an economy based on slavery and rum — ye olde triangle of trade. We bought our goods from anyone, anywhere who would sell to us. Slaves Bob. SLAVES were our primary product and the engine of commerce on which we depended. In the south (obviously) AND in the north (less obviously).

      We have at least come a ways since then.

      As a nation, we have always spoken with a forked tongue. Ask any Native American.

      Moral values? Really? We may not be as good as we should be, could be, and hopefully some day will be, but we never were as good as our PR. We haven’t gotten there yet. For whatever comfort you can draw from it, there are no shining beacons out there. The history of humankind is a sad business.


    2. There is great duplicity in our actions as we frequently say one thing, but do another. I believe with you that there has been deterioration in the 21st century.
      I also agree with Marilyn that the beacon never shined as bright as people might tell you. Our school history books tend to scrub away our worst behavior so we may continue in the odd believe that we were always a beacon of freedom.
      As always, thanks for adding to the discussion.


  4. We had to send one commenter on his way. It’s a no BS zone Comments sometimes are just a prelude to a shameless plug and twice earns the honor of the delete button. Sometimes it is only once because it is just a plug. Here is my response nevertheless.
    Cronkite was once known as the most trusted man in America. I doubt any journalist can earn that honor, though many have a great deal of respect. You can find honest journalism if you look for it.


    1. Rich, as you know, I had the good fortune to work 40 years in the news biz. I rode the wave of Murrow and his boys. I’ll always be grateful for the years we could report the news with substance and thought. Even when things changed, I refused to cave in. That, obviously, was my Achilles’ heel. I agree there is still honest journalism out there if you look for it. I always had to look for it.


      1. I don’t recall much of Murrow but I do remember the Cronkite years well. We trusted all of them, no matter what channel we watched. FOX news would never have survived, nor would many of the programs on the current CNN. You are right, there are still good ones out there. You have to look a little harder.


        1. Ed Murrow was the Father of Responsible journalism and Cronkite, as well as Erik Severeid and others were his boys. Garry started working at the tail end of this golden era and worked well into the new one. It was a brief and glorious time for news, when presenting the story honestly was more important than getting ratings. It was always a battle, even for Murrow … and eventually, inevitably, the bottom line won. There are a lot of books about this and I think you’d find it interesting.


          1. I recall a few of the Person to Person interviews because my parents watched them. That meant, of course, children had to watch it or see nothing at all. Celebrity interviews seemed interesting to me. I knew nothing of the news until the round the clock coverage of the Kennedy assassination.


  5. I kind of think the fact few people participate in our system is just a sign that our system of government is pretty good. So good we can ignore it sometimes and it doesn’t collapse. Not that I think ignoring it is a good idea, just that it chugs along without as much drama as somewhere like, Libya or Thailand. But I am an optimist.


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