Edward Snowden recently leaked secret documents about an NSA program spying on Americans. The press wants to make the issue Snowden's character.
But before joining those shouting for his head, consider this: It's easier to attack a scapegoat than to change a flawed system, but it might be the system that needs changing.
In a democracy, isn't it patriotic to change unjust laws? Many American heroes have broken the law in order to change unfair systems. Martin Luther King spent a lot of time in jail. So did the early suffragettes.
Snowden is doing what he thinks is right to change flawed practices that violate our rights.
First idea to contemplate: In a democracy we have "inalienable rights," rights that are ours by nature. When the government takes our freedoms to give us security from enemies they have defined, are we still a democracy?
Our president has seized the right to kill any American that he declares is a terrorist or someone helping terrorists. And he defines "terrorist" and "help."
We no longer have any right to due process. People used to take refuge in America to escape from repressive regimes, like the former USSR. We called them heroes, but the regimes they fled called them traitors.
Now, it seems that we have become a country from which citizens flee because of government repression. Has peaceful civil disobedience here become treason? Power is always extended and eventually abused. If we citizens don't curtail it, who will?
These issues define the kind of country we have -- whether it is still of, by and for the people or whether America is just another empire abusing its own citizens. These issues are more important than any individual, whether you call Snowden a hero or a traitor.