What is patriotism anyway? That is tricky question to answer. But the thing about patriotism is that if you're not careful it can lead to simple mindedness, blindly accepting of your country's all policies, law and regulation, bigotry and can lead to many prejudices within any given country. On the other hand when you get careless with it, it may end up doing more danger to one country to not have any patriotism allowing national unity to break and causing for the country to suffer greatly on different dimensions. So, how do we draw line? No one really knows.
Here is the thing, patriotism simply means love and devotion to one's country. What could possibly go wrong with that? On first notion, not much should go wrong. However over centuries it has come to have many different meanings depending on the context. Most argue it can be used as a synonym to nationalism, although it is similar, they are not the same things.
Instead of trying to explain what patriotism is by definition I am going to give you examples and information regarding patriotism so that you may be able to understand it, and perhaps relate to it better. Maybe you can see a different point of view in these war turbulent ages.
You might think politics and especially patriotism is the product of new age, but politics has been around since the beginning of man kind—almost. Aristotle is the first known philosopher to record governmental activities and compile data scientifically. A lot of political philosophy, comprehensive system of philosophy and systematic study of politics is credited to Aristotle. Aristotle has been estimated to live around 384 B.C. To 322 B.C. Imagine how long ago that was. However his teacher, and his teacher's teacher, respectively Plato and Socrates have long debated and wrote regarding to politics, nationalism, and patriotism before him. That's even earlier than Aristotle's work. In fact the word patriotism comes from the Greek word patris, meaning fatherland.
So, patriotism was found many, many centuries ago as warring nations needed a way to support their wars, rally their people, and present a just cause for going to war. Literally, it was invented by kings and their councils. Are you feeling as silly as I was, when I first found this out in ninth grade? Shocking. According to Socrates though “patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does and actually promotes analytical questioning in quest to make the country best it possibly can be.” Socrates indeed was a great thinker and a man who was able to foresee many political conflicts beyond his own time and was able to come up with many solutions to them. And of course like any other mortal human man he had his flaws.
What else about patriotism that possibly most of us didn't know until the later portion of our lives? Well, patriotism has been found by politicians to serve political purposes. The biggest purpose patriotism has is being a political tool that all governments use. Now, before you get angry at me and start thinking I am a liberal cuckoo, pause, take a breath and know this: I have been preparing to go to college for politics since middle school. I don't find comfort in labeling myself in one way or the other regarding to politics. Politics is politics and I only analyze it as such. I don't conform to one way or the other. So, I am pretty unbiased you see. What I am providing you with is information, rather than opinion. You get to make your own decision. At the end of this essay I hope you will walk away with solid opinions.
Ever run for student body government, a club president, a class president? If so, you have the basic understanding how much time it consumes and how much effort it takes to run a small organization. Imagine that and multiply it by several millions when you run a country. Oh the conflicts one runs into is limitless, endless. A country needs to be unified in order to do it's job. Most countries are not homogeneous, and always contain other ethnic and religiously different groups. In order to properly function without sectors of the public breaking into riots and other groups breaking apart from the nation to fight independence wars in order to create their own governments, the current government in power requires national unity, nationalism, a coherent public who sees themselves as part of a nation rather than just their ethnic and religious identities and also more than their ideologies. So governments create us versus them. Nations versus nations, rather than ethnic group a versus ethnic group b, religious group a versus religious group b. Patriotism, national unity, national identity allows the government to unify all sectors of their people, and cohesively to make progress regarding policy, laws, and change the country's direction according to the momentum in one way or another. This way the country seems to move along the direction the people want their country to move along in. Smart isn't it? Most of those who are involved in politics don't attend to universities and masters for no reason. Politics might seem like rather an easy degree, but it really isn't. It is beyond talking limitlessly and about anything and everything. Truth is, you can't talk about anything and everything without knowledge to talk about it. That is a misconception most fall into. You'll find that there are a lot of smart people in this country, that are behind the public eye who move and change political agenda with a lot of information and knowledge regarding politics as they all spend their youth in getting a doctorate in Political Science fields.Your congresswoman and senators aren't the only political bodies in the world, and often they are those with less political knowledge and background, unsure about how things run in the political world.
Imagine how difficult it would be if most countries did not have a national identity, a sense of unison, togetherness? It would be chaotic, a government without authority and power, with more conflicts than anyone could handle. In order for governments to run smoothly, a government requires majority belief in its legitimacy and authority. Further creating power and sovereignty, legitimacy and authority. Its a loop hole. Its hard to break, and harder to create. Without a proper government that can enforce laws, and without the supports of its people, rights would not be enforced, absorbed by the public, wars; especially civil wars would be far more prevalent in our world today. But with a legitimate government that the public believes in, a national identity, unity, and patriotism solid, governments are able to move forward. Not only that, patriotism is the biggest political tool to achieve that. Think like this; societies, individualism believes in the common good; a common goal to strive for, an ideal life, a common ideal to achieve. Common rights and morals are instilled in all of us since our birth. The way to achieve these goals are through patriotism. To be thankful for the country you were born in and all that it provides you with.Thus since our birth we are politicized to believe in one way or the other and to grow up to be patriotic. When we become parents, we do the same to our children.
This creates us versus them. This creates a cohesive and unified public and a national unity that can put their differences behind under a common threat, under dire circumstances. It makes us feel we belong to something bigger than our families and such. Patriotism is the easiest way to foster such feelings.
As a result a country that is unified, easier to manage, and with similar mind sets and desires from their government. A public can be brought together easily under dire circumstances and reactions regarding certain social and political events will be similar. This makes the government's job easy. Easy to anticipate the public reaction regarding policy making, regarding choices, regarding changes as a nation. Easy to serve their public with their needs as their needs will be similar across the nation. This is one tool all types of government use. Democratic, dictator, constitutional monarchy, or straight up monarchy. Its a common political tool. Patriotism creates a common background for all of its citizens, a mutual identity exclusive for those who are born in that country, thus giving certain mutual desires, goals, mind set and victory in mind over other countries. This can be a lethal weapon to use hence most people, regardless of their political ideologies tend to be patriotic. What differs in ideologies is that how people show their patriotism. Thus people can relate to one another, feel like they belong in something bigger than their town communities, and establishing “we, us” and “them, they” and unifies the general public for general broad terms. This allows people to enjoy certain given rights, certain freedoms, and certain securities knowing they will not be ousted simply by the color of their skin, or their religious faiths. Also allows government a wide space to move around in, change the laws and its political agenda, without causing negative feedback. Mostly with no feedback at all, as all governments strive for that.
Thus even if there are unsatisfied parties regarding politics and social reforms, the idea of national identity which is used through patriotism will not compel the parties to solve their conflicts by starting a war and try establishing their own government with in the same country.
Therefore, patriotism is enforced by all governments across the world. It is a political tool for governments to use, to further enhance a country's goals. Patriotism is supported by all governments across the globe. U.S., U.K., China, Japan, Germany, Turkey, Pakistan, Greece, Iran, Azerbaijan all use the same political tool; patriotism. All countries are patriotic, nationalistic and the public ask for the supremacy of their own country over others. This is where it starts to get dangerous though. Especially within the International Political arena. You don't believe me? Try shooting a Federal Agent and see if you don't get capital punishing in return. I guarantee you, you will be severely punished for such blasphemy as the government tries to enforce patriotism in all of us. You will be made into an example to respect, and feel such warm emotions for your country. Of course this rule applies to all countries, not just U.S., and I do not condemn America for such behavior as it is necessary to resort to such tactics as it is part of politics. As far as International Politics goes, just look at all the wars caused by patriotism and nationalism. Especially those as horrific as the Rwandan genocide, Uganda's civil war, WWI and WWII, and the current situation as Somalia makes one question nationalism and patriotism and how far it can stretch the ideals of a nation. Something to keep in mind, China is reemerging with Neo-Fascism across the world with their deepened patriotic and nationalistic feelings as they feel they should reign supreme in the world.
Besides politically, patriotism is important psychologically and socially. People need to feel like they belong to the country they live in, and people need to feel like there is something bigger that looks out for them, and have attachments as they sort of keep limits to our sanity.
But of course there are many ways to be patriotic. There are also the right ways and the wrong ways to be patriotic as it seems to be the current talk across the globe.
Being patriotic isn't only through holding a flag in your hand, putting it on your wall, on your car, or in front of your house and taking a picture with it. Wearing your flag as an underwear and socks does not mean you are being patriotic. It doesn't mean you should turn a blind eye to everything your country says, does and passes. Just because some smart Yale graduate proposes to do so does not mean you should believe in their mandates and their ideologies. A country might be great and powerful, but don't forget, all countries and governments are run by people. Government itself might be a flawless institution, but nonetheless its an institution run by people. People make mistakes and are eternally flawed. Regardless of how much political philosophy and theory we know, what is on paper can never be implemented perfectly into practice. That too is part of politics. Anyone past Introduction to Politics class knows that. Being patriotic does not mean you should grab a gun and shoot all foreigners, or of immigrant descent. After all most Americans had moved here from England initially. Does that mean they are unpatriotic. Absolutely not. Being patriotic doesn't also mean you should forsake all other ideologies, and should frown upon on other political theories. United States was a pioneer in political thinking upon its foundation. A republic, a government type that has never before seen, quite conflicting towards Britain's government at the time. Without new ideas and inventions we cannot grow and fix our mistakes. All governments have a past, filled with mistakes. United States is no exception to that rule. If you abhor all governments, and ideologies and you believe only your country should stand tall, overpowering and supreme over all other countries; that is not being patriotic. That is the first indication that you have psychological problems.
Being patriotic doesn't mean only saying God Bless _______ (insert any nation name here) and to torture the rest as they have no rights. Please don't get any ideas by my this line as most countries have the very same mentality. This was not an attack on America. When I make one you will know and you see I don't make apologies for my own ideas. They are what they are and just like you I am entitled to my own opinion. This one is not a criticism however.
One to be patriotic should know the meaning and battles your forefathers has fought in order to earn that flag for you to hang up freely. You should know your nation's history, your rights, the sacrifices given up to get to today, the treaties signed, learn what they enable you to do as a nation. Be aware of other groups of your country, as a nation they are all part of the same country, same identity and same ideology. Learn about your country's political background and institutions as you have every right to question and judge them. We all have the same goal, to better our country. Regardless of what political ideology or theory you believe in. At the end of the line, no matter how we differ on the outside, and our procedures, our goal is the same. To better our nation as a whole. So you want to be patriotic? Then do pay your taxes and do volunteer, and do vote, do pay your bill, and perhaps try to be a more rounded person. Do know what is in your constitution, what are the rights that are granted to you, the rights the government cannot take away from you, and make sure they enable you to. Voice your opinion, write to your congresswoman, to your senator, to your president. Encourage your fellow believers to do the same. Greater numbers always have greater chance of being heard. Do think analytically and critically and find the mistakes your government makes and do make them pay for it.
Be proud, as you teach others about your culture, traditions, freedoms, ideologies, and the beliefs as a nation we hold. If you argue that you are a patriotic person, become an exemplary citizen and fulfill your civic duties. Sure go ahead, put that flag up but you must know what it means first. You must know your traditions, your heritage, your culture and your literature, as you represent your country individually. We all do. Thats the matter of fact.
By education and discovering your talents and taking full advantage as you use them to the full benefit of your country and finding ways to improve status, economy and standard of living in your country are better ways to become patriotic rather than preaching but not practicing.