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?

Who Hears Your Voice?

There is a lot of unrest in America — and indeed, throughout the world — and much of it seems to stem from people feeling that their voice is not being heard.

The most recent example of this is the protests springing up around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death has sparked protests against police brutality of black men, and African-American communities are demanding to be heard.

This is hardly the only example, however.

Recently, there were anti-lockdown protests in a number of cities. Many of those protesters also complained about not being heard by state or local officials.

Also, women have been more and more frustrated that their voices are not included when decisions are made about women’s health. Many decision-making groups are made up of mostly or all men. As a result, the female voice is absent.

Many rural residents feel that financial and regulatory decisions are increasingly made in cities, for cities. The interests, needs, and wants of rural constituents, they feel, are not included.

All of these examples have led to political and social unrest. People who feel they are unheard grow more frustrated. As a result, they become more insistent that leaders listen to them. That can take the form of protests, boycotts, intimidation, threats, or violence.

Do you share these feelings of voicelessness? In your life, who hears your voice? Your city, state, or federal governmental representative? Your friends and family? What about your boss, or your union representative? How about a religious leader?

Being heard, or at least the feeling of being heard, can be extremely powerful. Do you receive that in your life? Where?

Related questions: Whose voice do you hear? What is your voice? What makes a community? How can we encourage debate?

What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

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?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a place feel like home? Where does authority come from? How important is respect? Freedom or security?

How Do You Show Thanks?

With a holiday named “Thanksgiving”, it is only logical to ponder giving thanks. There are many different ways one might show their gratitude.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you show thanks?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’


The origin of the holiday comes from a feast to celebrate a successful harvest. The feast part remains, although most people are not involved with a harvest.

However, eating a meal is not giving thanks. During that meal (or before or after), you might stand up and express your gratitude for your good fortune. Acknowledging beneficial things that have happened to you is a good start.

Some people volunteer, or donate to charity, or in some way help those less fortunate. Others might spend time with loved ones, or contact them in some other way.

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is worth a few moments to think about how you will mark the holiday.

How do you show thanks?

Related questions: What does it mean to be thankful? How important is ceremony? What makes a tradition? What do you like to cook?

 

What Do You Revere?

The positive emotions we associate with the people or things in our lives can vary quite drastically. We might feel love; we might feel fondness. Desire, kinship, envy, even respect. Beyond all of those feelings, however, lies a deep and powerful feeling of admiration bordering on worship: reverence.

The things we revere can tell us a lot about ourselves, about what we value and who we want to be.

For example, if your reverence is to a deity, you might be a deeply religious person, which can shape your social circle and your views on others. If you revere an idea, like equality, that might influence your political views and actions. Those with reverence for money might seek out high-paying careers.

It might seem illogical, but you can even revere irreverence. Someone who is an iconoclast, who bristles at authority or expectations of normality, irreverence may be held up above all else.

What do you revere?

To figure this out, you might think about what you have been drawn to your entire life. What books you read, what topics of conversation come up again and again. Think about what ideas resonate with you.

Do you think you share this with the people you spend time with, either your family, your friends, or your co-workers? How important is it that you revere the same things as the people around you? How important is it to find a group of people who revere the same things as you?

Related questions: What is important? Why is love important? What humbles you? How important is respect?