I am a patriot.
Call me sentimental, but I see the colors of the flag and my chest swells. I stand a bit taller and feel a bit stronger when I see someone in uniform pass by. Seeing that banner wave against the sky, I think of the dedication that so many show to the cause. I take pride in the victories and mourn the losses, even if I have not set foot on the field of battle myself.
As a patriot, I can be critical of my own cause. I can disagree with the strategies utilized, question the personnel employed, and even dislike the individual personalities of those entrusted with the helm. As one on the sidelines, entrusting others to carry the ball for me, I am relied upon to vote with my voice and with my checkbook. Amongst those who share my passion, I can express my frustrations and feelings of persecution. I can find solace in a community of people who believe that the cause is just, and that ultimately we will be vindicated as champions of all that can be good and right in the world.
As a patriot on foreign soil, however, I am far more guarded. I am not so quick to show my true colors. I take personally the barbs and accusations of excessive pride, privilege, self-absorption and insularity. Fending off the parries with rationalizations or excuses only comes across as empty defensiveness. Relativizing any potential wrongdoing by comparing the accusations with the injustices committed under other regimes is dismissed as inconsequential. My standard-bearers are held to a higher standard than most, and any wrongdoing—or potential thereof—is headline news.
Such is the price of those who dare to lead, who shed the label of underdog and take ownership of their place in history.
Wherever I stand, I stand with America; I stand with Israel; I stand with the Jewish people.
Rabbi Craig Scheff