Religion may be the opiate of the masses but patriotism is no less potent a drug.
In fact, it was the collective yearning for a land, a desire that developed, and strengthened over years culminating in Israel’s creation. TV channels, the newspapers, and social
media sententiously discuss the national feeling, ‘unity in diversity’, and the like to rouse our sentiments, more often than not, succeeding.
The recent past has proved again, and again that before the might of a people united under a common cause, the enemy’s capitulation is an almost fait accompli . It tells of many uprisings, and revolutions where thousands were killed, looted, and raped. These are now depicted as martyrs who sacrificed their life in hope of securing a better future for their children. A kind of Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori . In most cases they were general folk who died for no reason, glorified now to serve various agendas.
Today, patriotic zeal has regressed into something execrable. Emboldened by the blind trust of the masses, the government becomes a totalitarian regime where dissenters are repressed by chauvinists, and criminals. Freedom of speech has become quite démodé. The present atmosphere is hardly conducive for growth of genuine, healthy patriotism.
As the leader becomes irreproachable, any remarks less than complimentary about him are resented. That is not to say that patriots disempower the citizenry of their rights, but many extremists use patriotism to realise their nefarious objectives. Such a situation breeds a climate of intolerance. One has to have the courage to stand up to one’s own country, if it be in the wrong. Indeed, a patriot is who is brave enough to lambaste the flag-waving ‘nationalists’ and the government who sponsors them as the scourge of the nation.
A sort of jingoism, I believe has permeated the national mindset. People promptly go on the defensive if the country is called out for anything. From rational, analytic individuals, the citizens have switched to being poster-boys of the nation. However, we mustn’t disregard the massive role played by the mass media in shaping public opinion. Often the provocative rhetoric of political leaders prejudices the common man against a certain idea, belief, or even an entire community.
Indubitably, nationalism fosters a fraternity among otherwise unacquainted men, giving strength in national adversity, and a sense of commonness. Rallies, and processions are wont on special occasions; people celebrate their nationhood with such felicity, and fervor, that one can’t help but be awed by the force of sheer passion, and togetherness that patriotism builds. Many a dictatorial, and colonial government have yielded in face of united national resistance fueled by Amor Patriae. It is astonishing to know what sacrifices a man could make for his country.
Oscar Wilde opined ‘Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious’ . Many argue that it is silly to take pride in your place of birth when you could just as easily have been begotten elsewhere.
Not all are agreeable to this argument, and say that with no small amount of vehemence. I suggest we take the middle path: love your nation, recognize it’s failings, and work to mitigate them.
More and more youngsters are socio-economically aware; they realize that the institutions, and the leader aren’t
the very epitome of rectitude. It’s destabilizing nature now obvious, extreme nationalism is, and must continue to be shunned. Instead of debating, and discoursing on trifling matters, we must get to some real work. Patriotism is in some cases, a virtue, but in many, a bane of the society.
Au fond, Patriotism binds us, but blinds us