Can You Be Critical Of A Country You Love?

When it comes to showing your love for a country, is it better to have unconditional love, or are you allowed to be critical?

Unconditional love can be very powerful, indeed. Wedding vows are for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. In other words, unconditionally. A mother’s love for a child can stay strong regardless of the child’s behavior. And a pet doesn’t care about your looks, your job, or any other superficial characteristics.

However, those are all examples of the love one individual feels for another. Does that kind of love carry over to entities, like nations or brands? Should it?

On the other hand, being critical is, in it’s own way, and act of love. If you love something, like a country, you want it to be the best it can be. In order to improve, you might have to point out potential areas of improvement, and that may take the form of criticism.

But criticism doesn’t always come from a place of love. It can also come from resentment, or jealousy, or any number of other motivations. Is there an easy way to determine one way of being critical from another?

Some pundits and politicians denounce any criticism as being disrespectful. Is that valid, and/or is it helpful? Admittedly, it can be difficult to tell a loving critique from an attack, particularly when you are emotionally invested. If I love my country, and you offer a complaint against that country, doesn’t that complaint carry over to me, at least a little bit?

Can you be critical of a country that you love?

Related questions: What does it mean to be patriotic? What is patriotic behavior? When should you criticize someone? What do you love about your country?

 

What Does An Audience Owe The Artist?

One of the most interesting aspects of art is the relationship between the artist, who creates the art, and the audience, who interprets it.

The artist obviously has something in mind when they create, no matter if what they create is a piece of music, a painting, or something else altogether. That inspiration may or may not be obvious to the person or people who see the finished work.

The artist and the audience may never meet, and there is no guarantee that someone experiencing the piece will know anything at all about the person who created it. That not only includes who the artist is, but also what they are trying to convey in the work they have created.

However, there is a relationship between creator and consumer. Art is a means of communicating from one person to another, even if that communication is indirect.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you think others see you?’


With that in mind, does the audience for a work of art have any responsibility to the artist? Do they owe serious consideration, honest emotion, setting an appropriate context, or even learning about the intention during creation?

Does it vary from artist to artist, and/or from audience to audience? Does it depend on the type of art created? For example, does someone looking at a painting have a different obligation to the painter than someone listening to some music owes the composer and/or performer? What about a play, or some other public performance?

Related questions: What is art? Art: Create or consume? How important is the artist to art?

Is There Something You Do That Others Would Consider Harmful?

It is no secret that different people often have conflicting opinions. What one person might consider the right course of action, another might think wrong, or even harmful.

With that in mind, are there actions you have taken that others have disagreed with? Disagreed with so strongly, in fact, that a friend or a family member considered what you were doing to be dangerous?

Harmful, in this context, can mean many things.

One possibility is to be harmful to yourself. If you do something that puts your life, or some part of it, at risk, that might be considered harmful to you. This might include doing something that puts your job or your livelihood at risk. It might also mean risking physical harm, as well.

A second possibility is to risk the relationships or the even the lives of people around you. For example, someone might consider you a bad parent if you permit your child to participate in risky behavior (even if it is done in a controlled way).

Yet another type of harmful behavior might include something potentially damaging to the environment. This might include something as simple as not recycling, or something like driving an older, polluting car.

Naturally, differences of opinion may very well be at the heart of some of disagreements. Someone might believe eating meat is harmful (it’s certainly harmful to the animals being eaten), but someone else might simply view that as part of natural life: animals eat other animals.

Is there any behavior you have participated in that someone else considered harmful? Did you come to regret your actions, or do you feel they were justified? Or some of both?

Related questions: What do you do that you shouldn’t? How do you judge yourself? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? When should you criticize someone?

What Is Patriotic Behavior?

Patriotism means loving your country. But what, exactly, does that mean, and what patriotic behavior is acceptable? Are there some traditions of celebrating your country that are better than others?

Let’s take, for example, the national anthem being played prior to sporting events. The traditional patriotic behavior would be to stand, remove your hat, and look at a flag while the anthem plays.

There was some controversy recently, when some players chose to kneel, rather than to stand. That would seem to be disrespectful. But was it?

Let’s say you love your house. If you notice the roof is leaking, which is the greater act of love: ignoring the leak, or fixing the roof?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes a tradition?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are you optimistic about?’


If you wear a t-shirt made out of your country’s flag, some would see that a showing your love of country. Others, however, might see it as desecrating a symbol of your country. Is one right and the other wrong?

Are there some acts of patriotism that veer toward nationalism? If so, who decides what they are?

Similarly, are there some parts of your country’s history that one person may celebrate, while another is ashamed? How can you reconcile these two views?

Ultimately, can we agree on certain actions or behaviors that show love of country? Or is it, by definition, a subjective issue? What is patriotic behavior?

Related questions: What does it mean to be patriotic? How can you love someone who does something you hate? What role should government play in our lives? What are the most proud of?