Determined but Denied
For many, the battle for civil rights comes from a desire to establish equality: one group has been denied and the goal is to erase discrimination. These actors exist in the world where their benefits already exist. They work not to establish rights for themselves but to extend the benefits they enjoy to others. While not the case for everyone, many who work towards greater rights recognize the dangers of inequality and work to eliminate an advantage.
Others work from the other perspective: the position of the burdened. For these figures their work is an uphill battle where the desire for equality drives the action. Recent history features African-Americans and Homosexuals among this group. For these individuals it is their common bond of denial that drives them forward. Moving from a position of wanting equal benefits, they battle against an established power for recognition and award.
It is these figures that present an incredible demonstration of patriotism. It is one thing to exist in a country where rights have been provided. For those whose enjoyment of liberty comes automatically at birth there is a different level of appreciation. Given so much for no reason other than arbitrary details of birth (race, gender, class), these figures have less to bind them to the work that went into establishing the system they enjoy.
For those denied equality it is their stoic determination and unwavering patriotism that strikes one with zeal. To be denied equality and still remain patriotic is remarkable. To exist in a world where the denial of equality comes via the reasoning of trivial and arbitrary details of things like skin color, gender or class is a testament to true patriotism. It is one thing to have pride in one’s country when one has been given so much. Still noble, these figures cannot comprehend existence in a world where these rights did not exist. It is in the patriotism of these figures, denied so much for so long and for such trivial reasons, that a starkly impressive form of patriotism exists. It is in these figures that the purest form of patriotism exists: denied and yet determined, unloved and yet still loving.