Post-Independence-Day Musings on Patriotism
Patriotism is love of one’s country. However, what does that mean? Of course, it means to recognize all that is, has been, and will be good about your country. It means to respect its achievements and know its admirable qualities.
However, does it also mean that you never question your country? Never recognize its wrongs? Never apologize to others on its behalf when has wronged them? Does patriotism mean always believing your country is better than all others? Never criticizing what its leaders do?
Many Americans become furious when other Americans do these things. However:
- If you never question your country, it will never improve.
- If you never recognize its wrongs, it will commit then again and again.
- If you never apologize on its behalf when it has wronged others, no one will respect it.
- If you believe your country is superior to all others, people will see you as arrogant.
- If you never criticize what its leaders do, they will do anything.
So, if you want your country to be an arrogant international pariah, its leaders repeatedly committing terrible wrongs and its people never trying to stop them, never making it a better place, this is called “patriotism”?
The right-wing idea of patriotism is anything but–it is a recipe for disaster. If anyone else acted in such a way, these self-styled “patriots” would hate their guts.
You question and criticize your own country because you love it. You criticize its leaders and recognize its wrongs because you want it to be even better than it is. You apologize when it has wronged others because you know that this is the mature, responsible, and respectable thing to do. Only if you do all of these things, then you may recognize your country as being first, but first amongst equals. Without also humility, pride is nothing but vanity.
Think of it in terms of an individual. He makes mistakes, like everyone else–but he never recognizes these errors or takes responsibility for them. He refuses to apologize when he is wrong, denies that he ever erred. And despite all of this, he thinks he’s better than everyone else.
Would you respect that person? Do you want to be that person?
And yet, somehow, millions of Americans believe this is what Americans must be, or else we are self-hating apologists.