When a nation is addicted to hyper-vigilance and the use of offense as the best defense, peace is not patriotic, peace is the antithesis of the national identity. In this context, peace is perceived as passive and defenseless, unlike the patriot who “vigorously supports their country (their patris, fatherland) and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors,” as defined in the dictionary. The problem with the word defense is its association with power, domination, and isolation, which are strategies to produce security. Patriotism is really about security.
Fortunately, the demonstrated powerlessness of the United States to dominate a small group of determined fighters, and the inability of the U.S. to isolate itself from the current mass extinction event is illuminating the underlying need for a long-lasting, sustainable security. Thus, whatever strategy creates economic security is patriotic. Whatever creates health security is patriotic. If something diminishes threats by creating relationships of trust and cooperation, it’s patriotic. A partnership-based dialog process that is neither passive nor defenseless, that creates expanding opportunities to satisfy every human need, is patriotic. A U.S. Department of Peace would do all of these things.
Peace must be reframed to mean vigorous support for the economic, health, and relationship security of the land in which we live, and of the people with whom we live, in order to be seen as patriotic. The fact that “the land in which we live” no longer has effective borders and has in practice merged with everyone else’s patris on the planet is a secondary issue that will resolve itself naturally once the idea of security is accepted as the primary goal of patriotism. In fact, the anti-warrior and the pro-warrior can find common ground on that single goal and create a “patriotic partnership” for solving the security problem while incidentally erasing the perceptions of peace as passive and defenseless.