Written by John Vincent Lapez Amador
What does it mean to love your country?
I come from the Philippines, a country that is full of people who claim to love their country. We were the first country in Asia to get rid of colonizers because of our “love for country”. But today, that same patriotism has now turned into a political tool by some governments and twisted by them to mean supporting the president or leader’s actions.
Similarly, we see this happening in the United States which is known for their sense of patriotism. That term “patriotism” has been co-opted by both sides, each arguing that they are the true patriots.
That brings me to the question, what does it mean to be patriotic? And more importantly, does it even matter?
What is Patriotism?
In the definition of the Cambridge dictionary, is “a person who loves the country and, if necessary, will fight for it”. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster defines it as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” With these two definitions, patriotism boils down to loving your country. This I believe is where the main divide occurs in the battle for “true patriotism”.
Does loving your country mean supporting its current government, the government its people elected, or is it supposedly fighting for what a country was built on? Here is the hill that millions die on when it comes to debates.
The true answer is that patriotism should never be the defining issue when it comes to governance, or political loyalty. This is because, a country consists of mainly two parts, the living and growing part, and the country’s historical roots. One example can be the United States, wherein we have the part that is built on the Constitution and its amendments, and the other part its people who sometimes fight against the constitution itself whether coming from the left or the right side of the political spectrum.
This then brings up what I believe to be the paradox that occurs when arguing about patriotism. The constitution can be amended to fit the modern day, therefore is it patriotic to support the modern-day government that may be against some ideals of the constitution it was built on, if the constitution itself was built to be amended and changed as necessary?
Similarly, what does it mean to be a patriot from the left side of the spectrum if the government is leaning towards the right? Does not supporting your country, nor not supporting the constitution due to a desire to change your country mean you are unpatriotic? Are revolutionaries unpatriotic? Here we see the main problem that arguing about patriotism brings about. There is no side that will be, and always be “true patriots”.
Whichever side you fall into, as much as possible, try not to fall into the argument of “who is the bigger patriot”, or “which side loves their country more”, instead focus on the more tangible, that is what way of loving your country is the best for most, that people believe in and/or are willing to work on. We each must remember that a country is not just an idea, or defined by a constitution but very much also based on each and every person.
As we live in what seems to be an increasingly divided world, remember that the person you argue with on facebook, or on twitter, has the same goal as you, it is all about channeling that love we call patriotism, to something we can all work on.