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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Mark Twain (1909)
A speech given by Mark Twain in 1901. For a complete understanding of the passage click on Scott Horton's No Comment blog.

Yes, patriotism. We cannot all agree. That is most fortunate. If we could all agree life would be too dull. I believe if we did all agree, I would take my departure before my appointed time, that is if I had the courage to do so. I do agree in fact with what Mr. Skinner has said. In fact, more than I usually agree with other people. I believe that there are no private citizens in a republic. Every man is an official. Above all, he is a policeman. He does not need to wear a helmet and brass buttons, but his duty is to look after the enforcement of the laws.

If patriotism had been taught in the schools years ago, the country would not be in the position it is in to-day. Mr. Skinner is better satisfied with the present conditions than I am. I would teach patriotism in the schools, and teach it this way: I would throw out the old maxim, ‘My country, right or wrong,’ etc., and instead I would say, ‘My country when she is right.’ Because patriotism is supporting your country all the time, but your government only when it deserves it.

So I would not take my patriotism from my neighbor or from Congress. I should teach the children in the schools that there are certain ideals, and one of them is that all men are created free and equal. Another that the proper government is that which exists by the consent of the governed. If Mr. Skinner and I had to take care of the public schools, I would raise up a lot of patriots who would get into trouble with his.

I should also teach the rising patriot that if he ever became the Government of the United States and made a promise that he should keep it. I will not go any further into politics as I would get excited, and I don’t like to get excited. I prefer to remain calm. I have been a teacher all my life, and never got a cent for teaching.


Unknown said...

Wow! That is powerful stuff! We need more of this. Nobody can say that we have the discipline we did when I was a tot in school!!!

Happy 4th of July p m!!!!!!:)

Unknown said...

1. Thanks! There's a chance folks might listen to Twain!
2. An answer to a question you didn't ask: "When do you feel most patriotic?"

My answer: When I stand in line with my fellow citizens at the polls.
It's not my voting that evokes the patriotic sentiment, but the standing in line... with my fellow citizens, each of whom took the the time to stand in line to vote!

Have a nice day.

P M Prescott said...

Notice how voting is being conveniaterized so we don't have to stand in line. Just order an absentee ballot, vote early. Calls for internet voting. Anything to keep it from being a social experience.