We often see calls to be patriotic, particularly in a political context. It is important, after all to love the country that you live in.
But what does it mean to love a country? Does it mean to love, unconditionally, everything about that country?
Of course not. The history of any country is bound to contain acts and events that are not to be loved or celebrated. Just as every country is certain to have things that inspire pride.
Some people think patriotism is defined by physical demonstrations. These might include displaying a flag or the country’s colors, reciting a pledge of allegiance, or standing at attention for the national anthem. After all, if you don’t outwardly show love of country, how else might you show it?
Others think that a unified front is important, particularly in the presence of outsiders. Demonstrations against national behavior, criticism of national leaders, and displays of disrespect to a country’s symbols are often seen as unpatriotic.
But is that true? How do I register my displeasure if my country is not acting the way I think it should act? How are individuals supposed to voice their displeasure with the country’s leaders or policies?
In a democratic society, they can vote, of course. But voting only takes place every so often. So what to do in between voting?
There are people who are public servants. People who serve in the armed forces, who run for office, or who work at the local, state, or federal levels of the government. Some people campaign for, or donate to, candidates that they like, or who feel they are represented by.
So what, exactly, is patriotism? Is it celebrating your country’s independence day? Or support of your armed forces, in particular veterans? Is it outward displays? Or is it what is within your heart? What does it mean to be patriotic?