Sunday, December 28, 2008

What is Patriotism?

If you love your country must you wake every morning and sing the National Anthem?

Is it Patriotic to claim to be blind to anything wrong with your Country?

Is it unpatriotic to talk of Peace with your neighbours?
Is it unpatriotic to be realistic enough to see that peace within your nation is unlikely unless peace is found with the neighbours?

Is it patriotic to cry for War, even if it might lead to a Nuclear War or an eventual face saving pull back? Can't we see ... "The moment India secures a military advantage, Washington will be told by Islamabad that there is huge internal pressure from within Pakistan’s establishment to go in for a nuclear strike. That ensures that there is suddenly tremendous pressure on India – from all quarters – to exercise restraint, and pull back with some face-saving measures. Simultaneously with India’s upper-hand in the conflict becoming evident, China will suddenly decide to hold some exercises on their side of the border with India"???

Can hating some of our fellow citizens be called Patriotism?

49 comments:

Ajit said...

I would say that we are Patriotic, when we contribute in some matter to the development of the nation, it could be a simple task of just paying taxes....
and hating some of our fellow citizens is not patriotic at all..

@lankr1ta said...

My definition of patriotism is obeying the rules, paying the taxes. Beyond that I am rather confused about the definition. Because it is the favorite ply of the more jingoistic to express dislike for people from other countries and to pretend nothing is really wrong with our own. Also, I wonder who defines patriotism? Is it mere geography- for then in Punjab and Bengal a few miles off and its a new allegiance... and doesn't it somehow become contrary to loving all human kind- just questions...IHM why do you make me think?

The Quirky Indian said...

@IHM: You have asked a very basic question....one that all of us should ask ourselves.

@ @lankr1ta: That's exactly what I think the right definition is. Do your duties as a citizen. And paying taxes and obeying the rules and laws are a huge part of that. Unfortunately, for most of our fellow citizens, patriotism means burning effigies, destroying public property and calling for bandhs.

Quirky Indian

@lankr1ta said...

Oh and IHM, patriotism certainly is NOT this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HrNLkZx7Gg&feature=channel_page

Rakesh Vanamali said...

I will answer 'no' to all of your questions, but at the same time will emphasize that although we are not a war mongering nation, we need to root out evil from across the borders that engage in sponsoring terrorism!

If war is the only resort, then so be it!

Pixie said...

I agree with Rakesh when he says "we are not a war mongering nation, we need to root out evil from across the borders that engage in sponsoring terrorism!"
But, I am rather confused as to how I would define Patriotism from my point of view...
I know I am Patriotic, but to what extent?
I am proud to be an Indian, but why is there shame when it comes to certain issues?
I think, I need to sit and contemplate and find out the answers to my questions!

Very thought-provoking post.

Z@ki-R said...

crying war may earn you some votes but war is never going to help my country. it will only strengthen US economy at the cost of both india and pak.
i don't think having concern for common people irrespective of which side of border they stay is unpatriotic.
Patriotism? I agree with what Ajit,@lankr1ta has to say.

Kislay said...

Patriotism is unconditional love for your nation . Patriotism is thinking of the entire nation as your own , and not associating yourself with just a part of it . In the Indian context , patriotism would be respecting all the different languages, religions,customs and cultures of India . Patriotism is also about not asking what the country has done for you , but rather , what have you done for this country ? Patriotism is not just about rooting for India in cricket matches , and when the nation is under attack , it is a state of mind . You either are patriotic all of the time , or not at all . Patriotism , for me , is just the extension of what you feel for your family on a larger scale ; you love it , you would do anything for it , you wouldn't want any harm to come to it .

Pinku said...

an absolute NO to all your questions.

Having said that...will like to add....that just paying taxes is not enough ...thats something you would do in any country you reside in if the rules apply.

I would say taking active interest in the governance of the country, would certainly count high on my list desirable patriotic qualities.

hitch writer said...

If anything Patriotism should be valuing lives of fellow country men shouldnt it be ????

Do we actually do it ??

D said...

Not at all IHM. Wars are rarely patriotic, they are mostly political.

Kislay said...

@D
Which Indian war was political , according to you ?

Smitha said...

IHM, The answers to all you questions is an emphatic 'NO'. It is rather difficult to define Patriotism isn't it? And as for 'how patriotic am I? It is such a huge huge question.. Guess all of us need to really introspect and come to understand what patriotism means for each of us.. It is not just a label with a single definition, I would thnk...

Indian Home Maker said...

1conoclast

IHM,

We tend to think alike

on quite a few issues & I've stated earlier that through your blog, I've found like-minded, broad-minded, secular, moderate people as opposed to the raving maniacs that one usually encounters on the web.

With your permission, I'll try & respond to your questions with a few of my own:

Is Patriotism really all that important? I think it's overrated. It's less important than our basic roti, kapda aur makaan needs. Less important than the bottom needs that Maslow propounded.

What is it but another sales pitch to get us to "belong" to another "group"? If allegiance to a state or a village or a moholla, is deemed to be petty thinking, isn't patriotism just that, albeit on a larger scale?

In this day & age of NRI's & Green Cards, & matrubhoomi v/s karmbhoomi talk, I wonder what importance patriotism really has.

It's a sales-pitch. I'd say humanity is a greater virtue to aspire for.

Any thing else, is just classic extremism, uber-patriotism, jingoism & the like.

All of us know someone or the other in the armed forces. Ask them whether they begin everyday with either Jana Gana Mana or Vande Mataram.


1conoclast - I would say that if one begins their day with the National Anthem, then there are more chances of their being Politicians than Patriots.

1conoclast said...

ABSOLUTELY IHM!!!

That's a point that was made on We the People (isn't this where it all started?)

Indian Home Maker said...

Ajit I agree completely! And how can a beautiful sentiment that's supposed to make you love one set of humans make you hate another?

@lankrita Exactly my suspicions, I also am confused, "Because it is the favorite ploy of the more jingoistic to express dislike for people from other countries and to pretend nothing is really wrong with our own."


The Quirky Indian You started this with the some cold facts in your linked post. Thanks :)

Rakesh Vanmali But do you think a war will root out the evil? I hope our soldiers do not pay with their lives(again) for the mistakes our governments have made...

Pixie Yes it's true that our country is not perfect, but loving our country does not mean pretending it is perfect! In fact if we truly care for it's people we must never turn a blind eye to it's faults :)

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Wishing for peace for the ideal of peace is not patriotism for India, where Pakistan is concerned. I wish for peace with Pakistan mainly for self preservation because we are both nuclear nations. There is no endpoint or finite goals in a war that could go nuclear. I cannot imagine that we will ideologically live in peace with Pakistan for eons. Pakistani citizens see no commononalities with India, and that "seperateness" was the ideological reason for the formation of Pakistan. Without any reasons to see a common united good, there is unlikely to be peace for centuries. I am afraid we are stuck with this situation for the forseeable future. So no Patriotism does not enter into it.

Patriotism in our modern context is just to be the best you can be and live a law abiding life in the country whose laws you follow. That much alone makes the biggest difference. Grassroots is more important than sweeping declarations and grand gestures.

My father was in the Armed Forces. He joined as a young man when the country had just become independent. His patriotism is unquestioned and I know that each day he tried to be the best that could be. That was his contribution in war and peace to his country.

1conoclast said...

And as if our singing the national anthem everyday in school somehow guarantees that we will grow up to be patriots...?

kanaguonline said...

Difficult questions to answer.. the answer will vary with people.. so I am refraining from that.. But as far as war is concerned at this stage I will say no.. but pakistan being reluctant to act against terrorists we must carry out attacks for our own good.

J P Joshi said...

Thank you for asking some very valid questions, and i can confidently say that my answer would be NO to all of them. Now, to the larger question, 'What is Patriotism'? To me it just means love for your country; like one loves one's own children - Unconditional, never condoning wrong, not shirking your responsibility, doing your part, etc. etc.

Loving one's own country does not mean hating another.

Loved this post. Helped me revisit and re-examine my own ideas, and maybe get some better ones to ponder about.

Destination Infinity said...

There are a lot of things a war cannot achieve - Repairing the damage (both property and lives) for example is too costly. Europe has already seen this in a much bigger proportion and they believe now, in peace.

If the people in Sri Lanka had a negotiated settlement long back (however unjust that might have been), either side wouldn't have had to face such huge losses. Some how, we are not able to stand up and face each other and accept a negotiated settlement. Even though we know that a war cannot even provide a temporary relief. Nice post, IHM.

Destination Infinity

Mampi said...

To me, patriotism is something more than obeying rules and paying taxes. IT is also a part of my patriotism to question why the tax money is not being used to give me good roads, good bridges, electricity? Why is my tax money being used to feed the already fed?

Indian Home Maker said...

Z@ki-R I agree.
Political parties in both these countries have no regard for human life and use wars as a distraction ...

Kislay True. And also respect our Constitution, and our Democratic values. But now with the world getting smaller - why don't we extend this feeling to the rest of the World? I feel unless we have peace everywhere we can never have peace. If we truly care for our own country, then for the country's sake we will have to strive for peace everywhere.
It's like if your neighbour's house is burning, the fire and smoke will reach you too ...

Pinku I would say that taking active interest in the Governance of our country is true Patriotism. That is how we show we really care what happens to our country. Absolutely!!

Hitchwriter YES. Unlike what we see happening!
No most of us don't :(

@lankr1ta said...

Mampi, I agree, patriotism is asking for accountability, even while being accountable....

i am what i am said...

its a malaise in our country that we have far more opinions than information. patriotism is a fabricated sentiment nowadays. patriotism is not killing someone to keep its country's borders secure or for that matter getting killed himself while doing that. it is believing in the well being of oneself as well as o others.

Spontaneous Mini said...

1.My first reaction to singing the National Anthem everyday was “No way”.
But then wait a minute don’t we pray to God and chant our Gayatri mantra and say grace every day? That should give the answer. In my school during assembly time we used to sing the National Anthem every day.

2.If a person is blind to their faults and of his loved ones, we call it “blind love”. The vigilant citizen is the one who is aware of his country’s politics and Government. Love for country not equal to government love?

3.Neighbours must have the same wavelength to be able to sit around the same table. Because I am friendly with the children of the family does not mean the heads of the family will be friends. And who is the boss here? If the Govt.s are unable to see eye to eye, where does it make us stand?
Look at what is happening in Gaza again. So is Israel wrong in their retaliation? If someone keeps breaking the peace of our home what options do we have?

4.Hating a compatriot is never patriotic.

Charakan said...

During hunter-gatherer era Patriotism meant loyalty towards once Tribe.During the Monarchy it meant unquestioned allegiance to the ruler.During the period of Nation States it means loyalty to one's Country and its people.In a Globalised World it should mean loyalty towards Humanity.

I think many people oppose War because Pakistan is a nuclear State.Imagine the terrorists came from SriLanka instead of Pakistan.How many of you will be for a pre-emptive strike?

Bones said...

Nietzsche wrote that words with a history (like patriotism) cannot be defined...I agree...The French and the Americans are an example...After the French Revolution, the 'patriots' were the people who believed in the new God 'the Nation' and the new commander 'the State'...The Americans on the other hand were more docile in their definition of patriotism...They preferred the gentle strains of 'America the beautiful' to the more strident "Hail the chief' and they also believed in the love of one's own land and people...I personally subscribe to the American definition of patriotism...To me 'patriotism' mean respect for my country, my people, my culture, and my country's diversity... This however doesn't mean that I can't question and/or criticize my country, my government, my people, my culture, and my country's diversity...To me, patriotism is more to do with the community than the state...

Bones said...

P.S. Therefore, to me 'doing' what the State tells me to (eg. hate Pakistanis or unquestionably support war against Pakistan) is not patriotism...Since India is a democratic country, the ability to question is linked to patriotism...

1conoclast said...

Bones...

Respect man...!

philip9876 said...

Patriotism is...

According to Congress, its sucking up to the Gandhi family
According to BJP, its something to do with Hindu Tava or Hindutva...dunno what kind of tava it is
According to Commies, its opposing anything to do with the USA
According to BSP, its sucking up to Maya auntie

Mama - Mia said...

i hate it when patroitism is confused with jingoism! thats why the only war movie i really like is tango charlie which looks at soldiers who can feel fear and dont spout jingoistic lines!

that apart it scares me how people are thirsting for blood all the time. dont they realise the futility of war? the precious llives wasted?

like QI said in his post, a war would mean setting back our development by 20yrs.

point is we just need to look at our neighbour who refused to maintain peace and put in its resources only in arms and terrorism and see the state in which the country is. they have no source of revenue or income and have zero respect!

how can we not notie that restriant is the one that has led India on path to progress...

cheers!

abha

Usha Pisharody said...

No, to all those queries...

For me, patriotism would mean all of these and more.. :)

Loving my country. Not pulling it down, no matter what happens here, and maybe because of a few people who defame it!

Doing the best I can, in my own little way; being proud of being an Indian, always.

Getting angry about things being the way they are, but not hating my motherland for it... mabye some of her so called leaders, though.

Paying my taxes, ensuring I am a law abiding citizen.

Speaking up for Her, each opportunity I can, especially to children, so that perhaps, sometimes, somewhere, some of it brushes off on them.. and believing in what I tell them.. :)

Indian Home Maker said...

Another Kiran in NYC I agree with everything you have said. 'I wish for peace with Pakistan mainly for self preservation because we are both nuclear nations.' Is something we can't afford to forget either.

Kanaguonline But let's hope it never comes to that :(

Mr J P Joshi Yes, it would be 'Unconditional, never condoning wrong, not shirking your responsibility, doing your part' Thank You!

Destination Infinity Some how, we are not able to stand up and face each other and accept a negotiated settlement. Even though we know that a war cannot even provide a temporary relief.

Mampi That's what my favorite non political leader, who fought to get us Right To Information, Anna Hazare also says! Yes that is true Patriotism :)

i am what i am I agree with,"...it is believing in the well being of oneself as well as of others."

Spontaneous Mini ' I agreed whole heartedly with, 'The vigilant citizen is the one who is aware of his country’s politics and Government. Love for country not equal to government love'

Charakan I would still say 'War is not an option.' I loved your brilliant post on the same topic!

Bones Brilliant! ... to me 'doing' what the State tells me to (eg. hate Pakistanis or unquestionably support war against Pakistan) is not patriotism...Since India is a democratic country, the ability to question is linked to patriotism..."

Philip LOL :) Well said!!!

Mama Mia Wow!! Awesome, ...point is we just need to look at our neighbour who refused to maintain peace and put in its resources only in arms and terrorism and see the state in which the country is. they have no source of revenue or income and have zero respect!
how can we not notice that restraint is the one that has led India on path to progress...

Hobo ........ ........ said...

Patriotism is loving & respecting unconditionally.

The Comic Project said...

Emotions have always been a great rallying point during times when nations or people were at war with each other with regular frequency, when tribes were becoming nations, when news wouldn't spread fast and expressing one's allegiance to a ruler was essential for people's survival and in reverse, the ruler's survival.

In today's world, Patriotism is a seasonal emotion, and used as a stick to beat someone else up. And we are trying to measure this emotion. The biggest driver is self-preservation and when that is under threat, patriotism either appears or disappears as conveniently as we want it.

It is easy to talk about it because one can prove it by making the right noises and there is no need to act. Sometimes, dissent is a patriotic act but who cares.

The Comic Project said...

And excellent stuff on your blog. thanks

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Dear IHM

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year!

May the coming year bring to you, the best yet!

Warm Regards

Rakesh

Devil Incarnate said...

Very well written......
I think its all abt loving your country in al the posible ways, and sticking to it even during the hardest hours. But i guess our fellow ppl including me and the politiciens have defined it in al the wrong ways.....
I guess my coutry starts with me, its just everyone have to think that i am that "ME"

Vikram said...

Its perhaps much more meaningful to talk about nationalism. Patriotism is 'love' for one's 'country'. Nationalism is how one identifies with one's country. Patriotism is mostly secondary to nationalism, because it is mostly reactionary whereas nationalism is usually integral to one's identity once present.

So in India, the vast majority of the country subscribes to Ambedkarian and Gandhian nationalism, which sees the Republican Indian state as an agent to rectify centuries of injustice (Ambedkar), plus being a homeland for a multi-cultural population (Gandhi). This is why rural India matters more in politics and seldom sees the kind of large-scale inter-ethnic violence that urban India does. Patriotism for them will only come up when the Indian state and its authority are under threat. Sometimes they may defend the Indian state even if its actions are perverse.

However, the middle classes have a different view. Just like middle classes in America, they view the nation essentially as a springboard, where the state has to create enabling conditions for them to satisfy their ambitions and make their life convenient. Middle classes, are usually not 'patriotic' and cant expected to be so, they have too many other things to do.

Obviously, there is a section of the population that identifies with a democratic state for its values and principles, the ideals it was founded on. Patriotism for this section is protesting whenever the state goes against those ideals. Such people are extremely rare in America and even rarer in the 'new' India.

Vikram said...

Dont mean to be arrogant, but I am a bit surprised that you havent responded to the comment I made.

Indian Home Maker said...

Hi Vikram, my apologies for the delay in replying to/publishing all recent comments - will be back soon, very busy at home ... Happy New Year :)

Chirag said...

IHM, once more Happy New Year.

To me Patriotism is just an Idea. You would stand for, if at all.

Indian Home Maker said...

Hobo But 'respecting' might make it a very formal relationship!! Like respect the flag or we'll start a riot !!

Comic Writer I agree ...'In today's world, Patriotism is a seasonal emotion, and used as a stick to beat someone else up.'
and 'And we are trying to measure this emotion.'

Rakesh Vanamali Thanks, and same to you!!!!
:)

Devil Incarnate Absolutely, 'and the politiciens have defined it in al the wrong ways.....'

Indian Home Maker said...

Vikram
I agree with and like Gandhian Nationalism :) But I also feel we should be good humans before we become good Indians.

But I am not sure I agree with, This is why rural India matters more in politics and seldom sees the kind of large-scale inter-ethnic violence that urban India does. In fact we have more rioting and violence in remote rural areas. See Orissa right now? Gujarat, and in the past UP (e.g. Meerut), have seen the same thing. Or do you mean only inter ethnic violence ...? Not sure about that!
This violence in cities is a new phenomenon started by some parties/organizations with political interests.
Most violence has to do with the poor and unemployed, readily available and easily angered youth, directly or indirectly employed by political parties.

I also agree with 'Sometimes they may defend the Indian state even if its actions are perverse.'

Not sure what this means, "Middle classes, are usually not 'patriotic' and can't expected to be so, they have too many other things to do." Do you mean the lower classes are more patriotic? And back to my question, what does being patriotic mean? Vikram, no class is 'patriotic' if they do not need to be, the poor have no choice but to vote for their survival, apart from voting what patriotic actions do they take?

Vikram said...

Where's my comment ?

Indian Home Maker said...

Vikram I haven't received any other comment from you!!

Indian Home Maker said...

Vikram I have checked the spam also, it isn't anywhere! May I request you to post that comment again please!

Vikram said...

Oh never mind, it is good material for a post sometime.