ACTIVITY: "Patriotism & Peacemaking"

TIME: 2+ Class Periods

FOCUS: Act Courageously ALSO: Respect Others, Listen

 
STEP 1 – DEFINITIONS OF PATRIOTISM

Have students write their own definition and discuss these as a class and then read these three definitions of patriotism and ask students which they prefer and why.

  • Robert Heinlein (writer & US Naval Academy graduate): "Patriotism means that you place the welfare of your nation ahead of your own, even if it costs you your life."
  • Ralph Nader (consumer advocate & US presidential candidate): "…patriotism is working to make America more lovable…This means working to end poverty, discrimination, corruption, greed and other conditions that weaken the promise and potential of America."
  • Roman Catholic Church: "Citizens should develop a generous and loyal devotion to their country, but without any narrowing of mind. In other words, they must always look simultaneously to the welfare of the whole human family, which is tied together by the manifold bonds linking races, peoples, and nations." (from THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD, Vatican Council II, 1965, #75)
 
STEP 2 – "THREE LEVELS OF PATRIOTISM & CITIZENSHIP…"
  • Duplicate the Three Levels of Patriotism & Citizenship page and discuss the importance of all three; perhaps also decide as a class which flags you would like to have in your classroom and which "pledges" you want to say regularly.
 
STEP 3 – PATRIOTISM & BEING CRITICAL OF US POLICIES
  • Duplicate or read Amber Amundson’s letter to President Bush about not using her husband’s death on 9/11 as a reason for retaliation. Have students talk about her feelings and her "patriotism." Can we be critical and patriotic at the same time?
  • Older students could also read "Be the Best That We Can Be" by James McGinnis, challenging the morality of the US "War on Terrorism." Ask students in what senses would they consider this patriotic or unpatriotic and why.
 
STEP 4 – PERSONAL ESSAY or ARTISTIC PRESENTATION
  • Have students write an essay on "What does it mean to be a patriot and a peacemaker;" or do a picture collage, rap, or poem expressing their position.
 
STEP 5 - PUTTING PATRIOTISM INTO PRACTICE
  • Have students brainstorm various ways they can put their understanding of patriotism into practice and write these on newsprint.
  • Have them check various web sites for other possible actions and report back to class.  Be sure to include these two web sites and the various links on each:

Season for Nonviolence

Institute for Peace & Justice

  • Have each student decide one action they can do to put their understanding of patriotism into practice and write it on an index card or strip of construction paper.  As with several of the other activities, these strips could become spokes in a "We Will Be Patriots and Peacemakers Wheel" that could be posted in the classroom.

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