What is a patriot? According to my little Webster Dictionary, it is someone who ‘strongly supports and serves his or her country’. What does it mean to be a patriot? What does patriotism mean to you? What moments did you have where you felt patriotic or moments that defined patriotism for you?
To me, patriotism means pledging allegiance to a flag when I was 6 years old. To me, patriotism means watching the last Royal wedding with Kate and William live on the TV and seeing the British celebrate. To me, patriotism means reading the Declaration of Independence and finding my great-great-somewhere-in-the-greats-grandfather’s signature. To me, patriotism means raising a toast to the Queen. To me, patriotism means offending people when you don’t love that country in the same way. To me, patriotism in every-day life is somewhat embarrassing. To me, patriotism means not standing for the national anthem and your little cousin, in shock, asks you if you hate America. To me, patriotism is, in its essence, pride and I wonder why the American church culture emphasises it so much, considering that pride is seen as a sin in the Bible.
As you can see, I have a complicated relationship with patriotism. I roll my eyes at American patriotism and laugh along with my friend about the fact that I had to pledge allegiance to a flag every week. However I think it is sad that the British seem to be embarrassed by patriotism and that they are hardly ever patriotic expect when it comes to royal events or the Olympics. It is two extremes of patriotism and the ways you show it; and I am now uncomfortably in the middle.
Of course I have a love for a country and for a place. I love California. I love Norfolk. I love my mountains, deserts, and green fields. What makes me uncomfortable is an obsessed love for country. An obsessive love, which doesn’t see any faults or flaws or realises that their own beloved country has its issues with injustice, is not healthy. That emphasis ends up placing our love for country on a God-like pedestal.
We can have such a love for a country and a place. The trouble is that we can place such an emphasis on that love that we are blinded by it. We don’t just look at the land and earth around us and love it simply for its beauty. We want to own it for ourselves. It seems to be a part of our human nature. We want to point to a land and say that it is our own. It’s our home. God knows, how much I want to point to a place and say, that’s my own. It’s my home. However that is just our limited human perspective. We think just because we walk on the earth, we own it. We don’t own this earth. We simply inhabit it. Ultimately it belongs to the One who created it, which is God. To me, patriotism is an attempt to own an identity in a place and call it home.
What does patriotism mean to you?