Rethinking My Liberal Patriot Post–Do We Want to Be Patriotic Anymore?

The month of July always leaves me musing about patriotism. In past years I’ve written several liberal patriot posts that explored how Democrats and Republicans view patriotism differently.

My Liberal Patriot Posts

In my 2018 blog post At the Intersection of Liberalism and Patriotism, I told the story about wearing my Liberal Patriot T-shirt to the Farmer’s Market and having a lady tell me I was brave. I had no idea that wearing a Liberal Patriot T-shirt had the potential for peril. But in my deep red state, liberals are a minority.

In 2019 I explored the partisan differences in patriotism. As you can see in the YouGov chart below, the researchers asked what behaviors were patriotic. Responses vary depending on political party affiliation.

And now, in 2022, we have indications that those divides are still wide and getting wider. The 2022 YouGov poll added a question about the January 6 attack. The percentage of Republicans that believe participating in the January 6 attack was patriotic is unsettling.

Patriotism and Nationalism

People in the U.S. often pair patriotism with nationalism. Nationalism is the belief that being loyal and supporting our country has a higher priority than being concerned with the well-being of citizens of other countries.

Perhaps it is time we forget about patriotism and instead focus on global citizenship. If we focus on our geographical boundaries, are we neglecting a broader need to consider ourselves one global family?

The looming threat of climate change is one example. The actions of countries that use the most fossil fuels (including the U.S.) impact countries that strive to use cleaner energies. We must solve this global issue with worldwide cooperation.

A Focus on Global Citizenship

Global citizenship is a term for considering oneself a citizen of the world rather than just a resident of a particular country. People with a global perspective recognize that geographical boundaries are not actual walls when caring for all beings on our planet.

It is probably no surprise that people with a global perspective tend to exhibit less prejudice and more concern about issues outside geographical boundaries. Politically, they tend to be liberals.

The United Nations took a stab at defining what it looks like to have a global perspective about people in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

I appreciate the text that focuses on how we act, not on what we believe when it comes to all people.

There is evidence that while generous, Americans tend to donate money within our country rather than supporting charities abroad. Even to the point of giving U.S. charities more money than they can use and ignoring international causes where a few dollars can make a huge difference. If you’d like to learn more about getting the biggest bang for your charitable donations, read At the Intersection of Altruism and Economics.

Activism and Global Citizenship

So, what should an activist and global citizen do to make a difference?

It is easy. Focusing on your passion can make a difference for the cause closest to your heart. You can’t solve every problem in the world or your community. And you risk burnout if you try broad coverage for your activism.

Instead, use my 5-step path to find the perfect activism opportunity for you. Focus on the cause closest to your heart. Live your values. Think outside the box to match your unique skills to powerful social change. Make a difference doing what you love.

Finally, make sure your activism opportunity makes the most impact on your cause. If you keep a global citizen perspective, you won’t neglect potential opportunities outside your border. And if you choose to work nearer to home, you can prioritize donations for global causes you value.

I include resources on Getting Started in Activism to help you decide what activism methods suit you best. Browse examples and activist profiles.

It is lovely to have a deep engagement with your cause. But sometimes you must answer the call of other activists and other causes.

Engagement vs. Mobilization

The deep engagement with your activism opportunity you discover through the 5-step path is rewarding and impactful. It prevents you from getting scattered and exhausted. You can focus most of your social change time on your cause.

But sometimes, we must mobilize to support other causes. For example, if your best friend asks you to join her at a rally to defend reproductive rights, say yes if you can. Another example of mobilization is when we work to elect representatives that support our values.

Mobilize for the upcoming election because leadership is important. Talk to people about voting. Make sure we hear all voices. Help eliminate barriers to free elections. In addition to your cause, it is time to mobilize to support this one.

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Terri Lyon

Terri Lyon

The Activist For Activists. Author. Teacher. Psychologist. Animal Lover.