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Monday, July 19, 2010

Why be Patriotic? [warning, train of thought follows]

It is currently so incredibly early that my brain has stopped functioning normally.
That is, it is not functioning the way *it normally does*. Note the subtle differentiation..
The background to this post is a status I recently put up on Facebook - [with whom, by the way, I have a strong, though complicated relationship] - which ran: "50 babies were illegally murdered in New Zealand today. That's why I'm not patriotic."
At church last night [by nine minutes] I pretty much lost a debate with someone who disagreed with with me over whether I was justified to free myself of patriotism because of a country's perpetrated evil.
Patriots. What immediately springs to mind are those stalwart American men of the Civil War period, polishing up an ancient gun and kissing their families goodbye as they bravely leave to go and fight corageously for their kindred and country.

The movie "The Patriot", starring Mel Gibson is an extreme display of that kind of patriotism.
When people leave to go and fight [without enforced conscription] - that's surely one of the most patriotic things a body can do. When they accept that thier single, brutally ended, almost unregarded, unnecessary [often] death can potentially save their families from being taken/destroyed, and their country from being overrun by the enemy, there is little more that they can do to prove their utmost belief in, and love for their country.
*note: I don't understand how people can do that, or how they have done it. Most people aren't instilled with such a great love for their country that they'd die for it any day of the week if it were necessary - perhaps it is mainly war that calls out/creates patriotism.

These people fight because they have people they love who they desire to protect, but also because they love their country and [many?] of its values.

So, question. What happens when you LOSE your respect for your country's values? What do you do when your country allows a collapse of basic morals? What about when the country fails to uphold these values/morals? By 'the country' I mean the leaders who set a standard, of which the people follow/exceed.
If you have a stronger sense of right and wrong, do you continue to be patriotic to a country that you can't assimilate yourself with?

But there are difficulties.

Surely you *are* patriotic if you are so dissulusioned with the way society is working. Thus went the argument.

I reckon you're a patriot if you want to do something about the way society works, to change it for the better. You quit being patriotic if you decide the country's so bad it can't be fixed/you don't want to fix it [because you dislike it so much], then you've effectively damned the country [and possibly, yourself].

What do you think makes a patriot? Do you consider yourself to be patriotic/a patriot, and if so, why?

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Blogger Theresa said...

I can't help commenting on this, ha!
If you're not a fan of NZ, where would you move to? What country would you be patriotic about?
What I mean is this: you'll never find a country where you fully agree with all of the government's policies. It's just not gonna happen.

But you'll be able find a country where you have a great heritage, culture and way of life. Hey, you'll even be able to find a few countries that uphold basic human rights (for the people who aren't aborted as babies).

By the way, if we were at war, or if you said that in 1915ish no one would trust you ay.

Another thing: Policies and laws change. I don't see patriotism as a flexible thing, you're patriotic one moment and you're not the next? No. It doesn't change. For example, my Grandma has lived through two world wars (and more) where she saw her friends and loved ones die "for the country". She has seen our laws and governments change, many, many times. She doesn't agree with many of the current policies or 'values' and it's been like that for most of her life. However she's still patriotic.

Rant over.

12:03 pm  
Blogger Simeon said...

Hmm - i think its important not to mix patriotism to a country's political leaders mixed up with the country.

I am not patriotic to my government, we can change that. I am patriotic to my country, the country that I live in.

If a country's govt is bad - I can still be patriotic to my country, because I know the country can do better and we can do something about its situation.

If a countries society and morals are in general bad, I can still be patriotic to my country as I can fight for better morals and a better society.

If my country is bad - I can still fight for it to do better.

Patriotism without a sense of wanting to make your country better is blind optimism and a serious case of following the leader.

True patriotism is a continual concern over the direction of your country and doing something about it.

True patriotism does not give up when you think your country or its leaders are too bad.

4:04 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

Theresa - hmm, interesting points.

I guess I'm not just challenging patriotism to any given country, but the idea of patriotism itself. And more than that, I'm just questioning why we say we're patriotic - because, patriotic to what?

I know that there'd be no point in exchanging patriotism to another country, as that country would obviously have its own problems.
I think the question is, what defines patriotism. If it's pride and love for our country - well, I don't have much; at least, for the evil that's perpetrated.
But if you define it by how willing you are to do something about the evil you see, then I'm a patriot all right.

9:49 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

So then, you see patriotism chiefly as a virtue that seeks to change the country for the better, Simeon.

Rather than having much pride in the way our country upholds justice, or even in the morals and of own people?

Patriotism doesn't appear in the Bible. It's a fairly new phenomenon, although loyalty to one's country is not.
God tells us to obey those in authority over us, and to go spread the gospel to the whole world. Nowhere does He tell us to be committed to changing our own society in our countries - not as christians.

Still, I agree that we ought as christians to be concerned about our society - the Bible *does* tell us to do that, look after orphans, widows, the poor etc.
I just don't see that a strong loyalty to our country comes needs to come in.

9:58 pm  
Anonymous FR said...

I kinda get your train of thought:) I love my country but not everything about what the government decides. Does that make me patriotic or not?
Well, I don't know. Sort of, but I don't think in a go-to-war kind of way. I think patriotism goes beyond just politics. It's the love of your country's people, culture etc. I guess that makes me a little bit of a patriot after all!

11:20 pm  
Blogger Simeon said...

Hmm, interesting thoughts, but as Christians we are called to be concerned about our society.

However, I think patriotism without acknowledging God's sovereignty is wrong.

Elijah was concerned for his country - not just because he was a prophet. He was concerned for its spiritual direction and its moral direction, and God encouraged this concern, but ultimately assured him that he was in control.

Elijah was a patriot. He loved his country and its people because he wanted them to serve God.

Patriotism should not be blind (following the leaders, or simply loving your country for no good reason), it must be with a sincere desire to see them turn to God and to have morals which please him.

Yet again, we shouldn't have blind patriotism in the sense that we can change society. God is sovereign, and will do as he pleases.

Anyway, here is an interesting thought: “The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”

9:02 am  

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