Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ego alert: Patriotism


Be proud; not arrogant

Patriotism is defined as love for one’s country. In the world we live in where people move around and don’t often choose to remain in the country of their birth I’m not sure who is a patriot. Patriotism is getting jaded and outdated . When JFK said : “ ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country” he was just stirring up the people with rousing words that a fancy speech writer wrote. 

Politics is a game of words and powerful orators are akin to slick salesmen. They sell concepts and abstract ideas that appeal to your honour, integrity and dignity whilst they skilfully turn their attentions to their latest collection of nubile interns!

Patriotism and peace
Patriotism is political. It’s a club for the ego. It’s an enclave for the faithful to berate the faithless. Patriots are rarely vociferous in their countries of birth since they are confronted  with the bitter truths of governmental mismanagement – food shortages, pot-holed roads, poor sanitation and a dearth of educational resources and corruption. The latter being most often perpetrated by the men in power. It’s challenging to be a patriot when you have low socio-economic standards in a developing country.

Once a person leaves their country of birth they seem to become patriotic. The form groups in another country to remember the old country. Sometimes they refuse to integrate, learn the language of the host country and change the way they dress. The consider it disloyal to their country of birth to give up all their customs. Would that they were more loyal and remained in the motherland to do their duty?!!

Human rights stipulate that you are free to adhere to your cultural norms when they do not interfere with another’s civil liberties. What you do behind closed doors is your own business but what happens when its not? Visiting areas that have a high diversity of ethnic minorities you'll find your senses assaulted by unique sights, smells and sounds and not all of them pleasing. You’ll see people behaving in ways as they would in their own prairie lands that appear incongruent and undignified on streets of cobbled  stone. 

Fragile: handle with care
Do we have to tolerate another person’s idea of culture if its rammed down our throats?
The answer is no and I know many will misconstrue this as race hate. It is not. The right to life, liberty and happiness is upheld but what happens when one racial group puts this in a negative light? What happens when standards start falling in a developed country to make immigrants feel more comfortable? What happens when the indigenous population feel disturbed that their cultural practices are becoming obsolete?

Human rights means human responsibility. We cannot play ethnic music loudly, dump rubbish in our front gardens and cook with pungent spices if it brings down  the neighbourhood.  Being comfortable in our own skin, whatever the colour, should not pollute the atmosphere.  

The price of patriotism
Everyone wants to better themselves but not at the expense of trampling over another’s life style.If you are a patriot then practice healthy patriotism and do not hamper the attempts of indigenous peoples to live amicably in their own community. If you love your own country better then go back and support it. Do not disparage the  country that feeds you. Patriotism coupled with arrogance is the cause of social disorder.

There’s an ugly side to patriotism when we engage in warfare to settle differences. If we can’t share this world then what’s it for? The world is our country so what are we fighting over?
I do not live in the country of my birth so I’m not a patriot. However, I’m loyal to my country of domicile as I know I’ve been looked after – through good and bad economic times. Patriots should show love for their country by loving the one they’re in.  Being a good citizen and keeping the laws of the land is thanks enough.

We all need to live in harmony and without patriots (and inflated egos) we just might achieve that aim.
Hurtful patriotism



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