Is Patriotism Getting Outdated?
Patriotism is too big and complex of a topic to be properly covered in a blog post. I’ll sure do my best, though. We have so much to go through today, that I’ll only be mentioning a few patriotic sayings and quotes. But as long as you leave this page questioning at least one facet of life, I’ve done my job right.
So, patriotism. What is it? Why do we need it? Or better yet, do we need it? And are those who don’t believe in it heartless monsters? Who can say? Oh, right. Me. Today. In this article. Get ready to look at patriotic sayings, quotes, and actions from an existentialist point of view.
Famous American Patriotic Quotes
We’re all familiar with JFK’s famous inaugural quote “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” And for anyone growing up with a highly patriotic background, that’s a tear-jerker. Of course, you should give your all for the country that’s made everything possible for you.
But here is where free will and thought come in – Should you?
Patriotism from A to the US
There’s no denying that the United States of America make up one of the most overtly patriotic countries in the world. And that’s wonderful. Of course, the love of one’s country is so pivotal a part of that culture if ancestors had to fight and die for it. Plus, it offers a sense of belonging similar to being part of a religion. They’re your people, it’s your country, and you’ll be damned if you let anyone mess with that.
Throughout history, there have been three major approaches when it comes to the subject of being a patriot. The first one is complete dedication, similar to what JFK suggested in his speech. The second, about which we’ll talk in the next section, is selective patriotism. Last, but not least, one can simply choose to not care about the country in which they were born.
Of course, these aren’t all black and white. There are degrees to which you can care about your nation, and there are degrees to which you can not. All that matters is for each citizen to think for themselves. Otherwise, if patriotism is somebody’s sole driving force, if someone lives to serve their country and nothing else, they are the definition of a zealot.
Even this past presidential election got so out of hand because of misused patriotism. After all, most people didn’t vote the way they voted because they wanted to see the country burn. Most voted the way they did because they honestly believed that they were doing the best thing for their country.
And the liberal media certainly didn’t handle the whole affair fairly either. Instead of keeping an open mind and trying to explain their point, what the media did was insult and demean everyone who voted red by assuming that they were all unaware of the reality they live in. Nobody can take such an insult lightly, so, of course, most kept their beliefs. After all, at least the other party didn’t outright call them names.
But there are both better and worse ways to practice patriotism.
The Washington Monument and the Know-Nothings
Oh, boy, the Know Nothings. While they did lead to Lincoln being instated and to the abolishment of slavery, that was because its members were afraid of losing their jobs to immigrants and wage-free slaves. Oh, and because of them, the Washington monument looked like your average post-apocalyptic poster for decades.
Formed from the remnants of the Free Soil Party, the American Party, or the Know Nothings, preached freedom and acceptance of your fellow citizens… as long as they weren’t immigrants, particularly Irish or Catholic. Their motives were well-defined, and their platform seemed to make sense – from their point of view.
They honestly believed that they were doing the right thing by fighting to keep the workforce American and by not accepting those that might have an issue with their way of life.
Eventually, they led to the formation of the Republican party and Lincoln’s victory. But that still doesn’t excuse throwing a piece of marble gifted by Pope Pius IX for the completion of the Washington monument into the Potomac River. In fact, that is why the monument is two different shades. By the time the civil war was over and construction resumed, the original mine was defunct.
And that is how a group of well-meaning Americans almost ruined one of the most important national monuments by trying to be as patriotic as they saw fit.
On the other hand, we have Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. Although quite different in their upbringings, the two agreed on at least one thing. A country deserves its citizens’ loyalty, while a government has to work for it. But let’s hear it from them.
Mark Twain: “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
Theodore Roosevelt: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.”
Even Aristotle, who advised Alexander the Great to show no mercy to barbarians, as they are inferior beings, agreed that “it is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”
So, if one wishes to be a patriot but without falling to the faults of zealotry, how can they go about it? Well, it’s quite simple, really – stay informed and think for yourself. The internet, while full of erroneous data, is also full of every single accurate piece of information we’ve collected as a species. All you have to do is to look for it.
Ultimately, the best way to be a rational patriot is to question everything, check your facts, and then to go about your life with your country’s best interest in mind. Of course, not many of us live our lives thinking about whether we may be committing some light treason.
Is Patriotism Getting Outdated?
Now, what is Patriotism from an existentialist point of view? Nothing but a personal meaning given by someone to their life. According to existentialism, life has no inherent meaning – just the one we give it ourselves. So, it’s up to us to determine whether it’s worth it to be patriotic or not.
This creates several issues, some of which I’ll do my best to approach. For one, if you’re the only one who can give your life meaning, then why risk it for your country, for your fellow citizens, or for your loved ones? Ernest Hemingway seemed to agree with this point, as he once said that “in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”
But that’s the issue with existentialism. Anything can be easily motivated from a subjective point of view. Once again, of course, you’re going to put your life on the line for your country, as long as that is what gives your life meaning. Alternatively, it’s perfectly natural for you to want to play no part in the games of those in power. Why change one group of rulers for another if it doesn’t affect you or what you care about in any way?
And the issues don’t end here. With globalization also came the idea of no borders. Why keep borders when all they do is claim one side of the artificial line is better than the other? We are people. We are human, and we all belong to the same group. Of course, the sense of belonging to a country can be as powerful as belonging to a religion, but that’s when existentialism comes into play again.
Those who care about belonging to a group will find solace in patriotism, religion, or sports teams. But an increasingly influential group is fighting for equality and the collapse of social borders – and they’re winning. Soon, actual borders are just as likely to collapse.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on patriotic sayings and quotes and on what it means to be a good patriot. So, remember. Think! Fact check! Don’t buy what the media is selling you without confirming it first. And, most importantly, find what gives meaning to your life and pursue that. It’s the only way to stay true to yourself and be happy.