Has criticism of those who are elected to govern us become an unpatriotic offense? If so, will those seeking justice and kindness be disposed of by deportation to some foreign land?

It seems that those of us who disagree with President Trump have somehow become unpatriotic. Both my loyal readers know that I have consistently disagreed with something about every president because I’ve always thought it is my patriotic duty to get involved. Webster says patriotism is love or devotion to one’s country and just because I vehemently disagree with this president does not mean I don’t love this country. Rather, I think those of us willing to stand up to what we perceive as wrongs as opposed to those who just go along with the latest talk show host are the real patriots.

True American patriots understand that people can be poles apart and still be unashamed patriots. Patriotism is much more than reciting the pledge of allegiance, or standing for the national anthem, or worshiping our flag because in reality these are pretty shallow indicators of how much one loves their country.

Rather, true patriots understand that reasonable minds can differ and in most cases, either side of any given issue should be understood before being denigrated and tossed asunder.

For instance, in my coffee klatch more folks disagree with me on Trump than agree with me but none of them would dare question my patriotism because I love this country just as much as you or anyone else.

As I’ve said before, I consider myself lucky to be born in this country. Until recently I was proud of our desire to make America greater by continuing our efforts to help other nations adopt our approach to human rights along with our deep desire to make the world a better place for everybody – not just us.

A huge part of leaving the world better off than we found involves a willingness to share our rights and privileges with those around us. All humans should be entitled to their own pursuit of happiness, freedom to worship whatever God they want to, be free to speak their minds, engage in the process of governing ourselves while living peacefully among us.

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What saddens me is that the recent milieu in this country has once again unearthed the nasty notion that if you disagree with me you should leave the country – the old "love it or leave it" from the ‘70s. Back then, the Elks Clubs sponsored the bumper stickers but didn’t allow black folks to be members.

This type of mentality is not in line with our constitution or religious tenets, rather it exhibits a mean spirited intolerance of our differences. Unlike the vast majority of those on the right side of the aisle, I respect their right to their opinions even though many of them don’t respect my right to have one.

Rather than leaving my beloved country, I’m going to fight for those who want to silence folks who disagree with me, as well as the folks who may agree with me. This country was founded on the principle that all of us are born equal. No one, including our President and his supporters, is more important than any other citizen.

As citizens each of us has been granted certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So those who suffer from prejudice and bigotry towards others should probably be considered unpatriotic. If they don’t like being labeled as such perhaps they should leave because they don’t believe that all of us are created equal and therefore entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship.

We need to once again review the basic tenets our founders put forward before those willing to return us to such things as indentured servitude and separate but equal succeed in creating a society where disagreement is not only outlawed but enforced by blind bigots that think they should be more entitled than everyone else.

At this point it would be good to remind you of Micah 6:8, "…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."

Here’s hoping that we all become kinder and gentler toward each other.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.