The “Love It or Leave It” Mentality

It’s found on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and billboards across The U.S. You’ll see it alongside flags and images of shrieking bald eagles. Love It or Leave It. It is a rally cry for many who are fed up with a nation of complainers and critics whose words speak louder than their inert actions. It has become an embraced ideology for many who love what the United States of America means to them and their family. Unfortunately, it is a myopic steamroller that quashes any hope for equality, reform, and open debate.

I am going to do my best to avoid stereotyping the users of the phrase or falling prey to logical fallacies that attack the speaker instead of the message. My qualm is with the phrase itself, what it inherently means, and the damage it can cause. I don’t believe people who say "Love it or leave it" are any less intelligent or malevolent than any other random group adhering to an ideology. I do believe their intentions are good and they want America to be a great place. My argument is that most of them have not deconstructed the message they are sending and analyzed its potential repercussions. To many "Love it or leave it" may be synonymous with "Don’t shit where you eat" or "If it aint broke, don’t fix it" or "Blood is thicker than water" or simply "Stop your bitching." Yet, it is not synonymous with those phrases. When it is broken down, what "Love it or leave it" truly means is "Don’t question authority and don’t criticize that which is sacred." These are the same tenets many monotheistic religions espouse—do not question that which is sacrosanct. These are not the tenets of Democracy.

"Love it or leave it" implies that to love something, one must accept all of its faults without judgement. This, in itself, is not necessarily bad advice, although it often is. There are ample examples throughout history where a similar ideology to "Love it or leave it" has been used with disastrous results. The sexual abuse of young boys by Catholic priests continued for innumerable years because the Church was unwilling to look at itself critically. Love it or leave it. Children have been violently abused by parents because a spouse was unwilling to accept his/her family unit was flawed. Love it or leave it. 

Let’s imagine a world where everyone abided by the concept of "Love it or leave it." We would have no labor unions, no women voters, no attempts at equality among races, no minimum wage, and no United States of America. If the founding fathers had embraced "Love it or leave it," there would have been no American Revolution. We would still be under British Rule. In actuality, we would probably all be members of a Mesopotamian (or even older) society because no one would have taken a stand to create new and different societies. A world that lives by "Love it or leave it" is a world without dissent, it is a world of lemmings blindly following each other over a cliff to their untimely demises.

Democracy is the antithesis of "Love it or leave it." Its goal is to include the views and needs of all citizens in hopes of making life better for all of them. The first step in improving something is to look at it critically, to unearth its faults. The second step is to review those critiques and enact change. I think the prevalence of the "Love It or Leave It" mentality is because most of us are too eager to take part in step one, but too complacent to take the second step. We all get sick of listening to someone complain about something who never tries to improve his/her condition. I think what the "Love it or leave it" proponents really want to say is "Stop bitching and try to fix it already" and that’s what I wish they’d start saying instead.

One thought on “The “Love It or Leave It” Mentality

  1. interdisciple

    indeed, the 2nd step is key
    This awesome post deserves a comment — unfortunately, not the mediocre one it looks like you're going to get here — but a comment nonetheless.
    This should seriously be an op-ed in the Times or something. Well written, well thought out, hopefully not falling on deaf ears or choirs alone.
    Interesting synchronicity: Today is "Wear Purple To Show Support For Gay Teens" Day. The question re: Step 2 that we must ask ourselves: Is wearing the color purple today (lucky accident!) or buying the Go Red GAP schlock or choosing the pink breast cancer awareness stickered mushrooms at Safeway or changing our Twitter and FB icons to being green-tinted to show solidarity with Iranian youths really going to count as enacting change?
    But that's fodder for another post. As for this one, maybe I should just love it or leave it…


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