Thank you for the Dec. 23 article about the Freeport Flag Ladies. I wonder if the reported controversy rests on differing views of patriotism.

I think there are three flavors of patriotism. Each flavor has its necessary purpose and its shadow side.

First is the “My country right or wrong” flavor. It binds our nation together and has it roots in the human need to form groups in order to survive. It places “us” first and teaches us to honor those who sacrifice for “our” group.

But this flavor sometimes blinds us to our errors and keeps us separate from others with similar values.

Second is “My country because it is right.” This flavor reminds us of our national values and gives us pride in our history and accomplishments. It also teaches us to honor those who sacrifice for these values.

But it sometimes blinds us to the needs and aspirations of groups that have different values.

Third is “My country because it can do better.” This flavor also reminds us of our values, but continues to hold us to these values even when that becomes difficult. This flavor honors free speech and the right — perhaps the duty) to criticize — when our actions fall short of our ideals.

But this flavor sometimes overemphasizes our mistakes and fails to honor those who acted loyally even if in error.

Our minds seem programmed to prefer the black-or-white choice, the “this or that.”

But I think we need all of these flavors in balance. A perspective that sees the value of “this and that” accepts that loyalty does not come in just one flavor.

We need to take the time to listen and understand each other not just talk (or protest) past each other.

June D. Zellers

West Gardiner

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