1st off... Happy 4th everyone!
Now, moving on...

For many years I have regarded the term 'patriot' to be a negative. It was in the way I defined it. I felt a patriot was one who would stand behind and support any decision or policy his (or her) government made whether right or wrong.

Obviously, if that were indeed what defines a patriot then a patriot is an ignoramus (aka: a 'negative').

However, as experience and just a tad of wisdom have wormed their way into my cerebrum, I now understand a patriot to be someone who is willing to defend not their country's government but their country's constitution.

Two entirely different things.

Now in some instances, depending on the wording of the country's constitution, a patriot is a horrific thing (a country where women can be sold into marriage against their will for example or where people do not have the right to own land because of the caste system into which they were born). Such constitutions certainly do not need to be defended. They need to be eradicated.

But in other instances, to be a patriot is a noble thing. If they are patriotic to a constitution that offers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all it's citizens. A constitution that ensures a right to a trial by one's peers. A constitution that describes it's government as one by the people, for the people, of the people. A constitution that guarantees the right to due process. A constitution that promises a separation of church and state... freedom of religion... freedom of speech... freedom of the press...

But being a patriot under such a system requires responsibilities. Indeed, freedom isn't free. But not just freedom from foreign enemies, but also freedom from enemies within.

Even if that domestic enemy becomes the current sitting government itself, it is the patriot who raises his voice in protest. It is the patriot who challenges those in power. It is the patriot who takes out his copy of the of constitution and begins quoting.

On the flip side it is the non-patriot, the enemy of the state and the accomplices of the enemy of the state who demand silence from the protesters. It is the non-patriot who ridicules and criticizes those who speak up. It is the non-patriot who insists that to question the leaders is immoral, wrong, unjustified and treasonous. It is the non-patriot who sits idly by and watches the heads of state distort and bend government policy for their own personal agendas.
A patriot is more concerned about preserving policy, ideals and the values upon which his/her country was founded. The non-patriot is more concerned about preserving the status quo and power of those currently in charge.
There is no question as to which is right and which is wrong. It is inarguable as to which will effect the eventual demise of a country into a chaotic ruined lawless state of the haves and have nothings.
It is elementary that a country can not survive on its foundation if its foundation is warped, bent, prodded, torn at the seams and ripped in malice by those in power.
These observances are universal. They do not apply to simply one nation.
Any nation will fail to be by the people, for the people and of the people if the people permit the enemies within to act in their own best interests rather than those of the populace at large.