What is patriotism and who is a patriot? Of course, before you jump the gun and answer with the cliché — i.e. “a patriot is someone who practices patriotism”…let me stop you right there…for neither patriotism nor a patriot can be so simplistically defined. Then again, when have words ever been enough to capture the truest essence of patriotism in the confines of its connotations.
For if we were to do a simple web search, you’d be astounded to see that patriotism has been portrayed as both a virtue and a vice; but the simple truth is simply this — patriotism is neither the last refuge of the scoundrel nor the virtue of the vicious.
Of course, as with all-things-words, let us first take a look at its denotative meaning. According to Stephen Nathanson (1993), patriotism means: (a) special affection for one’s own country, (b) a sense of personal identification with the country, (c) special concern for the well-being of the country, and (d) willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.
Of course, while the two terms — nationalism and patriotism — are often used interchangeably, truth is — their connotations are totally different. While nationalism simply refers to one’s love for one’s nation, patriotism on the other hand, refers to a moral duty and obligation that we all have towards our nation. Thus, patriotism is a moral virtue by which every citizen must be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for their nations.
Thus, our soldiers, who expend every single drop of their sweat and blood, while protecting our borders, are the perfect example of true patriots — the people who are ready to make supreme sacrifice for their country. Thus, a patriot is one who works tirelessly towards nation-building whether he is a sentry standing a post or the postman who delivers letters.
Hence, patriotism is a feeling inside the patriot who knows that he needs to work hard so that the country may derive the benefit of his blood and the fruits of his labour. Thus, a child going to school on time in the hope that one day he would join the elite group of scientists and win a Nobel prize is a patriot too. In fact, to best understand what the term means in positive light, let me turn to another patriot, Abraham Lincoln, who said and I quote, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
Hence, patriotism is not a vice. It is a feeling of pride that one associates with one’s country. And every nation…especially our nation that prides itself on being the largest democracy of the world is in dire need of producing patriots — people who would work hard towards developing the nation and help fight its myriad problems. And let’s be honest, we do have a bucket-list of problems to solve. But what happens when a nation fails to produce patriots? The result is brain-drain…The result is a weak economy…The result is a weak society…The result is a crippled and corrupt government…The result is a failed state until the time…the country itself stops existing.