Knotty Musings

Ideas, philosophies, and evil plots to take over the world through love hatched here.

I Am Enough

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others." ~ Marianne Williamson

Remove the Nots

Remove the Nots

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shutting off the Critical Voice

Shutting off the Critical Voice

There are soooo many lessons in life, some harder... than others. You'd think that learning to love yourself would be one of the simpler ones, right? I don't think so. The reason being, that learning to love oneself, requires SO much unlearning. Every time someone else called us stupid, or lazy, or fat, or ugly, or naive, or boring, or crazy, or whatever, we put that away somewhere in our brain, and in our heart. And the more times we heard these negative things, the more we didn't even need to hear it from anyone else anymore. Every time we made a mistake, we could now be our own worst critic, and call ourself all of those names, without even realizing we'd said it - the brain thinks on average 60,000 thoughts a day. We don't even notice when "I'm so stupid" goes through our brain.

Well, we can stop this, and I KNOW it can be done, because I've been working on it for a few years myself. What's required, is living a little more mindfully, and paying attention to our thoughts. At first, the critical voice might be rambling for a few days, before we notice it. But once we notice it, we can backtrack to see where the negativity started. We can source the original thought that started the slide into negative self thinking. We become conscious of what we are thinking. And the more we do this, slowly but surely, the more quickly we will catch the negative voice, and stop it in it's tracks. I'm usually no further than a few sentences in, at most, now. And when I catch myself doing it, I immediately take the the time, to replace those comments with the positive opposite. If I'm calling myself "lazy", I may not at first believe I'm "a go getter", but as I keep saying it, I become it. And if I take the time to look at all the things I get done in a day, or in a week, hell ya, I'm a go getter!

Perhaps the hardest time for me to shut the voice off, is when I look in the mirror. So, instead of not looking in the mirror to shut off the voice, I went and got a big full length mirror, so i could see my entire self in it. And then, before I looked at myself in it, I painted it purple, and attached butterflies and flowers, and sparkles to it, and I made the mirror itself a piece of my own artwork, and something I wanted to look at. And now, every time I stand in that mirror, I am surrounded by my own creation, something separate from myself, but still a part of me, that I consider beautiful. And in my nakedness, every day, I look into that beautiful mirror, as I am surrounded by flowers and butterflies, and tell myself how beautiful I am. And I name my parts, and say outloud how beautiful each is. And I smile at myself. I just stand there and smile at myself, and remind myself that I am a beautiful child of God, and I am EXACTLY as God created me, and God CANNOT create anything less than perfection, He/She doesn't know how. I didn't believe myself at first, the negative voice wanted to call me a liar. But I kept doing it. And slowly but surely, I began to believe parts of my affirmations. And with a bit more time, I began to believe all of affirmations. I still have a LONG way to go with self love, and there are so core issues that still block me, but that's ok, with the improvement I've seen by just sticking with it, I'll never stop, probably not even when I AM living the Goddess life, that I know is mine to receive.

*looking into my mirror*

I am beautiful
I am perfect in all of my imperfections
I am intelligent
I am creative and a co-creator with God/dess
My body is a temple of health and wholeness
I am a beloved child of God/dess
By birthright, I am divine
I love me

~ Tracey Rogers

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peeking Across Humanity, Across the Ages, We Find What Is Important

This is very interesting reading, especially in terms of religious tolerance. We have more in common across beliefs than we are often willing to admit or to investigate.

Bahá'í Faith:
"Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not." "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." Baha'u'llah
"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. 1

"This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you". Mahabharata, 5:1517 "

"...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12, King James Version.
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31, King James Version.
"...and don't do what you hate...", Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that circulated among the early Christian movement, but never made it into the Christian Scriptures .

"Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Analects 15:23
"Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3
"Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Mencius VII.A.4

Ancient Egyptian:
"Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to circa 1800 BCE and may be the earliest version of the Epic of Reciprocity ever written.

“This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths." 3

"Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." Acarangasutra 5.101-2.
"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara
"A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. "Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

"...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.", Leviticus 19:18
"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
"And what you hate, do not do to any one." Tobit 4:15 4
Native American Spirituality:
"Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace.
"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk
"Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself." Pima proverb.

Roman Pagan Religion:
"The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."

"The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form" Munetada Kurozumi
"Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God." Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga

“Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib
"Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji 259
"No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Dev : AG 1299

"The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven't the will to gladden someone's heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone's heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this." Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.

"Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien.
"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful." Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49.

Unitarian Universalism:
"The inherent worth and dignity of every person;"
"Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.... "
"The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;"
"We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." Unitarian principles. 1,2

"An it harm no one, do what thou wilt" (i.e. do whatever you will, as long as it harms nobody, including yourself). This is called the Wiccan Rede

Yoruba: (Nigeria):
"One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts."

"That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself". Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5
"Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29

Some philosophers' statements are:
Epictetus: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (circa 100 CE)
Kant: "Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature."

Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." (Greece; 4th century BCE)

Socrates: "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." (Greece; 5th century BCE)

Seneca: "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors," Epistle 47:11 (Rome; 1st century CE)

Examples from moral/ethical systems are:

"...critical intelligence, infused by a sense of human caring, is the best method that humanity has for resolving problems. Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled." Humanist Manifesto II; Ethics section.

"(5) Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity."

"(11) Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings." 3

"Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you, British Humanist Society.

"20: Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you." This is one of the 21 moral precepts that form the moral code explained in L. Ron Hubbard's booklet "The Way to Happiness."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Native Divide: Serving Culturally Diverse Populations

Native Divide: Serving Culturally Diverse Populations

Paula Kipp

Metropolitan Community College

America has long been viewed as a melting pot, a place where the world’s tired, poor and abused sought refuge and a better life. The weaving together of diverse cultures into a shared heritage is often thought to be what makes America great. The main principle that “all men are created equal” as stated in the Declaration of Independence is still a draw, over 200 years later.

Yet the nation’s 4.9 million American and Alaskan Indians might beg to differ. (US Census Bureau, 2009). Equitable social services, strong families, and the pursuit of happiness through economic independence have largely detoured around reservations. A predominant reason is the importance placed upon retaining the Native American cultural identity, which has been a mixed blessing. The social worker who wishes to work with the American Indian and Alaskan population must have a good grasp on the proud traditions and tribal law that keep tribes rooted in poverty.

Lila Downs discovered a renewed connection with her cultural identity while completing her Census form. A member of the Mixtec tribe, one of 16 tribes residing in Oaxaca, Mexico, Lila has experienced a crisis of identity depending on who’s asking about her hometown. Downs explains that due to societal bias against Native Americans and Mexicans, she would deny her Mexican heritage in the U.S. and her Indian heritage in Mexico. Mixed ethnicity has proven both a curse and a blessing. The denial of heritage, Downs believed, opened more doors and prevented awkward moments with others. While studying anthropology in college, Downs experienced Oaxacan weaving and found her identity. When Oaxacan women weave, they weave a symbol of historical significance into the fabric. The realization that she was on this earth to make a mark has led Downs to embrace her multicultural heritage. (Downs, 2010).

Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first female President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, can attest to cultural challenges that exist even within the tribal unit. “The arrival of the Europeans to this land was the beginning of the end of Native people’s way of life and the destruction of their culture. They insisted on converting Native peoples to Christianity, often forcefully, which resulted in changing the structure of the Native family and community.” (Cox, 2010).

It could be argued that Native American marriage customs have further contributed to the disparity in gender equality and the overrepresentation of American Indian children in the foster care system. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2007 there were 537,500 American Indian and Alaska Native families in the U.S. While sixty percent were married-couple families with children, less than half of those parents live with their biological children. A higher share of Native American births is to a never-married mother (58.4% compared to 33.2% for the US as a whole). The Native American teen birthrate is twice the rate of non-Native American teens.

While Native American culture places great emphasis on family, the expectation of marriage is not a cultural norm. Likewise, the definition of what constitutes “marriage” differs from tribe to tribe. The Navajo, for example, use the clan concept which could best be described as “it takes a village to raise a child”. In the Navajo tribe, elders engage in child rearing and pass on traditions to the young. As a result of ambiguous definitions of marriage, it is hard to measure the rates of out of wedlock birth rate. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).

Angela Fasana, director of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde CASA Program, points out that governmental policies intended to change the Native American way of life have contributed to poverty, unemployment and other ills. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, American Indian/Alaska Native children experience a rate of child abuse and neglect of 16.5 per 1,000 compared to 10.8 for Caucasian children. They also account for 1.6 times the non-Native American rate of child abuse cases.

From the early 1800s through the early 1970s, policies which aimed to “tame” American Indian children resulted in nearly 35% of Native children being placed in foster care by the 1970s. Placements were not made with the cultural identity of the child at heart. The Indian Child Welfare Act, passed in 1978, mandated that children be placed in homes that keep the cultural customs alive and safeguards citizenship within the tribe. Yet nearly 4 decades later, the act is unfunded and tribes are largely responsible for enforcement. Many tribes, however, fight lack of resources. Because tribes are considered sovereign, they can pass their own laws. Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, has recognized the need for advocacy in the tribal courts and volunteers receive the both standard and additional cultural training. The ability to build relationships within the tribe and to understand the tribe’s policies, as well as open-mindedness and a willingness to learn is one of the strongest benefits a child can have besides a sense of belonging.

The American melting pot has long accepted many nationalities and expected assimilation in return. The cultural genocide of the Indian culture has existed over many generations. Racism, poverty, incarceration and abuse have contributed to the genocide. Social workers and other helpers, through understanding and advocacy can help return these proud people to their right place of honor.


Austin, Lisette. (2009, winter). Serving Native American children in foster care. The Connection. Retrieved from

.Cox, Dolores. (2010, March 31). Native women fight to reclaim equality. Worker’s World. Retrieved from

Downs, Lila. (2010, April 13). Identity is about leaving a mark, a sign, a sound. CNN. Retrieved from

Infoplease. (2009). American Indians: Census Facts. Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Retrieved from

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. (2007). Marriage in the Native American community. Retrieved from

One More Walk Around The Garden

"One more walk around the garden."
by Bob Perks

"Our time together is now measured in seasons," he said as
they sat on their front porch.

Walking is the best exercise for you. Not only in the physical
sense. But also for your mental and spiritual well being. This
walk is one I will never forget.

Up the hill behind my home runs a path that at one time would
take you into a beautiful wooded area. But in recent years
someone plowed down the trees and built their little piece of
the world. Oh, you can still get to the wooded area, but now
you must cut through the development or walk up through the
cemetery. If I want scenery I go through the development. If I
want to remind myself how blessed I am, I go through the cemetery.

Today's walk took me through the development.

There's a beautiful old stone house that I have admired since
moving here more than 10 years ago. I have spoken to an
older retired couple working in their yard nearly every time I
passed there. They must work long and hard in the garden
because their home is beautifully landscaped. Among the
bountiful flowers and bushes I could see Greek statues and
bird baths. There are trees whose names I am not familiar
with and lush ground cover of deep greens that remain that
way well into winter.

But in this past year I have noticed a change.

The bushes have grown beyond their earlier, well manicured
size. Many of the smaller trees have taken over their spots
as branches hang lower nearly covering the flower beds below.
This once pristine garden spot has become a reflection of the
condition of it's care takers.

They have grown too physically old to keep up with it.

"How are you today my friends?" I asked as I passed by their
front porch.

"We are as fine as can be expected, sir," the gentleman replied.

There they sat on the front porch of their home. He had on a
warm woolen jacket, open at the front revealing a blue sweater vest.
In spite of the fact that they hardly go any where, he wore a tie
as always.

She sat in an old wooden rocker wrapped from head to toe in a
beautiful autumn quilt. Beneath, she appeared to have a heavy
sweater and woolen pants. In contrast I was wearing a t-shirt
and jeans. At their age even the slightest chill requires warmer

"Are you ready for winter?" I asked.

"In past years we looked forward to cold winter days. Our
fireplace and enclosed porch out back was a haven from the
heaviest storms. And a great place for a cup of tea and a good
book. Have you written another one yet?" he asked.

"Not yet published, but I have written stories along the way that
will be put into a collection very soon. I promise to bring one to
you," I said.

"I hope we are here to read it," he said.

"Are you leaving the area?" I asked.

"No my friend. Like the season we now find so beautiful, we are
in the Autumn of our lives. Our time together is now measured in
seasons. I pray that we survive the winter," he said.

Then turning toward his wife he said, "My love is not doing very well.
My heart aches for her. I am not sure that we will..." He began to cry.

I nervously brushed the leaves on the sidewalk with my feet not knowing
whether to say something or permit him to continue.

"I once loved the beautiful display Autumn created in our yard. I guess
I should be thankful that it has given us at least one more spectacular
show. But as the leaves begin to fall I see my wife's spirit begin to fade."

"I don't know if I ever told you this. But your beautiful handy work, your
gift for bringing life to the world in the form of breathtaking flowers and
trees, has lifted my spirits many times just when I needed it. For years
now I have walked by your home and paused long enough to be refreshed.
It must give you great satisfaction to see the fruits of your labor," I said.

"Yes, it has. Except for this year. We could do little because of my wife's
failing health. I always knew that I would be able to recognize when
our time together was coming to an end," he said.

Then as he stepped carefully off the porch he pointed to the garden
path that began nearby and wrapped the entire house.

"That trellis covered with roses was designed to look like the
gates of Heaven. I envisioned that one year we would enter those
gates one last time and walk along the garden path together. I knew
there would come a time when she would not be able to stand for
long periods."

He stopped for a moment and looked at her. She sat quietly never
saying a word and smiled her heavenly smile whenever their eyes made contact.

"I vowed to never walk that path alone. She has been by my side forever."

I walked over to the gate and looking at the surroundings I asked,
"Have you walked through it this year?"

"No. That is why it is in such disrepair," he replied. "But it is our
dream to see April together once more. And have one more walk along..." he stopped.

"Oh, my Lord," he said. "That is our favorite song."

"I'm not familiar with it. What's it called?"

"One more walk along the Garden" written by Lerner. It is from
a musical. It seems so very appropriate now. I guess we knew the
day would come and the longing for one more walk would leave us
cold like the winter," he said.

Then the thought came to me. You know where thoughts like these
come from.

"Do you have a wheel chair?" I asked.

"Yes. On the back porch. We only use it down stairs. I
couldn't maneuver her outside. The pathway is not paved," he said.

"Yes, but I can. Tell your wife we're going for a walk. I'll get the chair."

Picture for a moment the three of us outside the Gates of Heaven...
their Heaven. We carefully wrapped her in the quilt and added a
warm hat. He stood to her left along side the chair holding her
mitten clad hand. We began the journey together. Perhaps one last time. But with one stipulation.

"Forget that I am here," I said. "I want this to be your moment together.
I will remain quiet and out of the picture. Think of me as the hands of
God supporting her."

I tell you as sure as I am writing this, I did indeed feel invisible. It
was perhaps more in my mind than reality. But the second we
crossed through the gate, I could see her standing there beside him.
I was witness to a remarkable moment when he began to sing softly
to her. We had stopped for a moment and he knelt down in front of
her. It almost looked like he was about to propose. He sang
"One more walk along the garden, one more stroll along the shore."
Caressing his face, she leaned over and kissed him.

I have no idea how long it took. I wish it could have been forever.
One day it will be.

"Thank you! You have no idea what you have done for us," he said.

"You have no idea what you have done for me," I replied. "With
your permission this is a story for my next book."

Then his wife reached up, and touching my hand smiled at me. From
under her quilt she pulled out a small dried out rose she had plucked
along the way. She gestured for me to take it. Pausing for a moment
I grabbed her hand and placed it in his.

"He should have the last rose of summer. A flower to remind you both
that April is waiting for you."

In all of my remaining days I will forever be grateful that I had taken
that walk. You see I walked through Heaven's gate for "One more
walk along the Garden."

In closing I need to share this with you. After hearing him sing I
realized that I was familiar with that song. I have a CD by
Michael Feinstein. It is called the "Burton Lane Songbook Vol 1"

I share some of the words here with you.

"One more walk along the Garden"
by Alan Jay Lerner from the stage musical Carmelina (1979)

That old April yearning
Once more is returning
And I have a longing to wander

The leaves may be falling
But April is calling.
And the prim roses beckon me yonder

For one more walk along the garden
one more stroll along the shore.
One more memory I can dream upon
Until I dream no more.
For one more time perhaps the dawn will wait
And one more prayer it's not too late
To gather one more rose
before I say goodbye and close the garden gate.
"I wish you enough!"
Bob Perks
I encourage you to share my stories but
I do ask that you keep my name and contact
information with my work.

If you would like to receive Bob's Inspirational
stories, please visit

and submit your email address.
"I Wish You enough!"
© 2001 Bob Perks
P.O. Box 1702
Shavertown, Pa. 18708
Contact Bob

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear
much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."


by Jack Canfield

It’s time to meet the person who has been responsible for the life you live right now. This person has created your income, your debt, your relationships, your health, your fitness level, your weight, your attitudes and your behaviors. Who is it? To introduce yourself, walk to your closest mirror and say hello! This person is you! And although the popular myth circulating is that external factors determine how you live, the truth of the matter is that you are in complete control of the quality of your life.

It’s time to look at the life you’ve created and determine what is working and what is not. Certainly, there are wonderful things happening in your life, whether it’s your job, your spouse, your grades, your children, your friends or your income level. Congratulate yourself on these successes; you are creating them for yourself! And then take a look at what isn’t working out so well. What are you doing or not doing to create those experiences?

It’s time to stop blaming outside factors for your unhappiness. When you realize that you create your experiences, you’ll realize that you can un-create them and create new experiences whenever you want. But you must take responsibility for your happiness and your unhappiness, your successes and your failures, your good times and your bad times. When you stop blaming, you can take that energy and redirect your focus on creating a better situation for yourself. Blaming only ties up your energy.

It’s also time to stop complaining. Look at what you are complaining about. Really examine it. More than likely, it is something that you can do something about. Are you unhappy about something that is happening? Make requests that will make it more desirable to you, or take the steps to change it yourself. Making a change might be uncomfortable to you. It might mean you have to put in more time, money and effort. It might mean that someone gets upset about it. It might be difficult to change or leave a situation, but staying put is your choice, so why continue to complain? Face the facts: You can either do something about it or not. It is your choice, and you have responsibility for your choices.

Successful people take 100 percent responsibility for the thoughts they think, the images that visualize and the actions they take. They do not waste their time and energy blaming and complaining. They evaluate their experiences and decide if they need to change them or not. They face the uncomfortable and take risks in order to create the life they want to live.

Taking responsibility requires you to first decide to believe that you create all your experiences; second, to pay attention to yourself, your behavior and your life experiences; and last, to face the truth and deal with what is not working in your life. You have to be willing to change your behavior if you want a different outcome. You have to be willing to take the risks necessary to get what you want.

Isn’t it a great relief to know that you can make your life what you want it to be? Isn’t it wonderful that your successes do not depend on someone else? Commit to taking 100 percent responsibility for your every aspect of your life. Decide to make changes, one step at a time. Once you start the process, you’ll discover it is much easier to get what you want by taking control of your thoughts, your visualizations and your actions!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Indian Ten Commandments

The Indian Ten Commandments

Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect

Remain close to the Great Spirit

Show great respect for your fellow beings

Work together for the benefit of all Mankind

Give assistance and kindness wherever needed

Do what you know to be right

Look after the well-being of Mind and Body

Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good

Be truthful and honest at all times

Take full responsibility for your actions

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Is A Patriot?

by Joseph Walker

It was football season, about 20 years ago. My then-8-year-old daughter Andrea and I were watching the Sunday night news, which included a report of the day's NFL highlights.
"...and the Jets cruise past the Patriots, 34-7. Meanwhile in New Orleans..."
"Daddy," Andrea interrupted, "what are patriots?"
"It's a football team, honey," I replied, absently. "Sort of."
"I know that," she said. "But what does it stand for?"
"The way they're playing these days, not much."

Obviously, Andrea wasn't much on sports humor.
"OK," I said. "A patriot was, you know, like in the days of the Revolutionary War. People who really loved their country, like George Washington, the Minute Men and stuff."

That was that, I thought, and I returned to the football highlights until...
"Daddy, what happened to the patriots?"
"I don't know," I said. "A bad trade, a couple of injuries, some lousy draft picks..."
"No, I mean the patriots who lived with George Washington. What happened to them?"
"Well," I said, "they won the war, they established a great nation and then they all died."
"Oh," Andrea said. "So patriots are kind of like dinosaurs, and they're extinct now?"

I was losing ground here. But what was I supposed to say? Patriotism hasn't been high on the list of politically correct postures for a few decades. So I turned to the dictionary.

A patriot, I told Andrea, is "one who loves his country and supports its authority and interests."
"Oh," Andrea said. "Like the man who lives over by the school who flies his flag almost every day? He told us it's because he's proud to be an American. Is he a patriot?"
"Yes," I said. "I think you could say so."

"And what about Mrs. Davis?" my daughter continued. "Last week at church she was teaching us that song about America, and she was talking about the purple mountains magically and the fruity plains and she started to cry. I think she loves our country too."

"That's 'purple mountains majestie' and 'fruited' plains,'" I said, "and yes, I'm sure she does."
"Then she's a patriot too! And Bryan (the neighbor in the military) and Rosa (the friend who was working toward U.S. citizenship) and Chuck (the teenager who... well, I wasn't sure)."

"Chuck?" I asked.
"He always has a flag on his truck antenna," she explained.
"I guess that qualifies him as a patriot," I said.
"Everyone I know is a patriot," she said, "because everyone I know loves America!"

I could have told her that there are a lot of people who would be quick to point out all of the things that are wrong about America. But then it occurred to me that maybe they complain because they care. Besides, what could be more American than criticizing the government? It's a tradition that goes back a long way -- all the way to George Washington and his fellow complaining patriots.

"You're right," I said. "We're a whole country of patriots, each in our own way."
"Including those guys?" she asked, gesturing toward the Patriots on the sports report.
"EXCEPT those guys," I said.
Hey, there's nothing patriotic about losing football games.

-- Joseph Walker