From every day of singing National Anthem & Song at the school, lessons of history books, Knowledge of the Heroes of our freedom struggle, and their acts of valor; we became quite familiar with the fact that it is our paramount duty to Serve The Nation That Serves Us.
However, even after a lifetime of education and learning, we were never told ‘Exactly’ how we’re supposed to serve the purpose from our respective places in the society when at the same time we’re struggling to sustain, grow & succeed in life. This begs the question “Do we have any understanding of the task we, collectively, have to accomplish or we’re just doing more damage than good?”
Love of one’s country, Devotion to the welfare of one’s compatriots
Each one of us can conjure a different interpretation out of these words and after all that mental labour we’re bound to become excessively eager to justify it against all others, but it is important to realize the difference between a thought and a fact.
Nationalism is not Patriotism
Nationalism should not be confused with Patriotism. Both words are used vaguely that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a line in between.
The idea of dividing people in herds of citizens by borders, only to classify them as good or bad respective to them being inside or outside is absurd. Yet we’re not talking about Nationalism as a term attached only to a Nation; it can be a class, religion, or some other units. It may work in a negative sense against other unit, without ever needing the positive object of loyalty.
A nationalist is someone who solely thinks in terms of competitive prestige, he may be using his energy for better or worse, but regardless of his efforts his thoughts always focus on victories, defeats, triumphs, and humiliations. To him, history is nothing but an endless rise and decline of great power units.
A nationalist is always scared that the past can be manipulated, so he works incessantly to arrange every detail of history as it should be in his vision. He takes great pleasure in the thought that the nation or unit he backs is constantly on the upgrade and some detested rival is on the downgrade.
All of this is very unhealthy as it makes you blind to reality, stops you from seeing things as they are instead you start to cherry-pick events and details to support your presumed opinion. And even if they qualify to enter the equation, they hardly ever are accepted as facts.
As Voltaire (French Enlightenment writer historian & philosopher) stated
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind
George Orwell (English Novelist, Journalist & Critic) in his ‘Notes on Nationalism’ drew a brief but precise distinction between Patriotism and Nationalism in the lines –
“By ‘Patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way
of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon others. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself, but for his nation or another unit in which he has chosen to sink his individuality.”
The most important thing to realize here is the fact that nationalists of such kind, like astrologers, survive all of their mistakes and misdeeds, because we as unaware and devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.
Faith & Communism is not Patriotism
We indulge in a routine of obtaining things that were promised, satisfaction-peace-nirvana-greater knowledge & awareness of self and the world we inhabit, without directly working towards it. We follow it, in one form or another, from birth till death. It has been occurring for such a long time that we’ve started to belive, that only those of the same belief deserve to live around us, or much worse, have any intention of coexisting for the betterment of society, nation, or the unit we think we belong to.
We not only hesitate in marrying our children outside our unit and declare our god as the one true God, but we also go beyond that threshold. The nature of this crime is so subtle that our mind do not detect it as our malevolent effort to gain supremacy for our unit. We start to display some sense of superiority, not only in military power or political virtue but also in art, literature, sport, language, structural beauty of inhabitants, climate, scenery, and food.
Here the realization of the conspicuous yet lesser known fact, that there is no accomplishment in merely taking birth at a certain place, in a certain race or religion, is necessary.
It is sufficient to say that there will never be a step by step guide to Patriotism but just by constant learning to be aware of our thoughts, actions, most of all their consequences and with the power of reason we can eventually acquire a human understanding and decide our role for the betterment of the people without even minutely harming others beyond our reach.
But to do that first we need to get rid of false lessons ingrained in our environment because If this kept on going it will only lead to the fall of democracy and death of reason. And almost all of us will stop registering all atrocities, committed under the veil and inside the borders of false patriotism, as atrocities and the rest will be labeled as traitors.
As Samuel Johnson (A prominent literary figure), indicating false patriotism, famously stated
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel