The TEDx Talk on Patriotism That This Country Needs to Hear
I’m proud of my first book, Front Toward Enemy. I poured everything I had into writing the book that told the truth behind the headlines. It told the very personal story of my life with my husband Lou, and my life after he and the commanding officer of his unit were murdered in Iraq – killed by one of our own. But it’s not my whole story.
I doubt we will ever know the entire truth about how one soldier was permitted to run amuck the way he did, until he murdered two officers. I know no one will ever volunteer the truth about why so many details were covered up or so many lengths were gone to, to disrupt justice.
It took me years to come to terms with that reality.
In my grief and confusion, I made countless mistakes – errors in judgement hastily made in a desperate effort to escape the pain, if even momentarily. It is not easy to admit those mistakes.
It’s even harder to do so publicly, but I did it anyway in my TEDx Ladybird Lake talk.
This talk was so important to me. It helped me really zero in on the most important aspects of my experiences. As a result, I now have the foundation upon which to structure my next book.
At the risk of sounding grandiose, I also believe this talk is important for our country right now.
At this precise moment in our country, there is a major war of manipulation in our media – both sides. It’s as if two parents are in the midst of a venomous divorce and, rather than prioritize the well-being of their children, they are distorting facts, inciting anger, and dividing the children, forcing them to choose one or the other.
The children are at first cajoled into siding with one parent and then punished for any signs of wavering. Brother and sister are torn apart even though all they both want is to be free to express happiness and unhappiness with both parents, and to live alongside each other in peace.
Children are often without a voice, completely dependent upon their parents. They are often helpless and compelled to pass through the channel their parents send them through.
We are not children. We are not helpless. We are not compelled to buy into any of the hate and wrath-inciting propaganda from any media outlet or public figure. And yet, so many of us are doing just that.
I am not even remotely asserting that I am all-knowing. I don’t pretend to be an expert on politics or foreign policy. But what I do know is this:
Underneath all the politics, we all want the same thing.
My TEDX talk on How Patriotism Helped Me Triumph Over My Tragedy has a message that can snap us all back to our senses.
It can be that cold water splashed on a heated face, momentarily stunning us into silence and allowing our manipulated emotions to rest for a pivotal moment.
This talk can help Americans pause just long enough to realize things like this:
I don’t really think my mother is a racist just because she voted for Trump.
I don’t really believe my best friend wants to behead our president because some idiot “celebrity” called for it.
I don’t want my family to stop speaking to each other.
I’m tired of living in fear.
I’m tired of all the anger.
This talk challenges us all to consider things like this:
This country does not have to go up in flames. We, the People, can peacefully set that example.
I don’t have to vandalize property, disrupt commutes, or encourage adults who abuse public platforms to incite more hate.
I don’t have to post insults about those who voted opposite me.
I can spend more time highlighting the positive and inspirational Americans, than anyone on either side who insists on fueling this dangerous feud.
I can vote for change in 2020, and accept the results of that vote.
This TEDx talk uses my own experiences to explain how I learned the power of patriotism to channel fear, pain, and anger into powerful, positive, and peaceful change.
This country is in pain. We are all mourning the sense of peace now lost. We all want the peace restored – at least most of us do. Let’s not as a country make the same kind of pain-based, desperate attempts to feel momentarily empowered, mistakes, as I did. I promise you these kinds of mistakes only deepen the wounds.
Let’s instead take the courageous path. Let’s be willing to manage our emotions and start behaving with this country’s best interests at heart. Let’s acknowledge that we disagree and commit to doing so in a way that does not continue to rip us apart.
Let’s stop feeding the fires that are burning this country to the ground, one family at a time.
Let’s find common ground in love of our country and the values of patriotism.
Let’s stop giving both sides the validation they seek. Without a crowd to perform for, they have no voice. Let’s be our own patriotic voice and settle in for the long path to healing from our wounds rather than deepening the cuts. for fleeting relief.
My husband and so many others gave their lives on behalf of this country. It is killing me now to see this country being ripped apart.
I will no longer be a part of those flames that are reducing patriotism and peace to ash.
I will instead acknowledge that, just like all the people I speak about in this TEDX talk, I will not presume who a person voted for implies he or she is a racist, a killer, or an enemy, but is instead a person just like me, who wants what is best for their family and their country. I will not validate hate by returning more hate. I will not insult you as you insult me, because that is how anarchy wins, and we all lose.
We will not all agree on religion or politics. We can all agree with the statement that we are all Americans. If we choose, we can use that fact as common ground from which to launch a new campaign to reclaim peace within our own borders.
The values of patriotism, as described in this TEDx talk, pave the way.
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