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July 7, 2013 / Congau


To a proud Canadian

The love of your country is not unconditional, you say. You love it because it “is an excellent country in which to live, due to its quality of life, form of government, culture, and so on.”

What would you then say to a person who comes from a country with a low quality of life and a miserable form of government, but who still says he loves his country. Is he misguided?

In all countries of the world patriotism is encouraged, but most of them fall short of Canadian standards. There are patriots everywhere. Countries soaked in misery, war and corrupt government are no less likely be crowded by nationalists. Sometimes nationalism actually thrives under such conditions. Surely those people would also be able to come up with reasons for the pride of their country. They may point to its natural beauty, its proud history, its courageous people, its arts and customs or any number of things. The list is potentially endless, and of course any country has qualities. Nature is beautiful anywhere, there must be some achievements in a long history, any culture has necessarily produced something etc. That means it’s always possible to find something to praise and be proud of if you are pressed for an answer.

Since those “reasons” for pride and love of your country can be produced anyway, I suspect that they only pop up when you start looking for them. Delightful words are needed for the speeches on national day and soldiers and citizens need encouragement. Patriotism as a sentiment without any concrete content probably comes first. Children at a very early age are often taught to love their country, and they are actually able to grasp that sentiment long before they are capable of understanding rational arguments. Flags are waved and songs are sung and feelings are thus generated.

Are you sure your feelings didn’t start like that, Canadian? You had a feeling of love for Canada, maybe even before you really understood what Canada was. Possibly it was only later, as you grew up, that you supplemented your sentiments with rational arguments.

Can rational arguments really be the main reasons for someone’s patriotism?

We are all small human beings. Each one of us is not so important in this huge world, and therefore we feel the need to be a part of something bigger, something that can make us bigger. Then we associate our country with ourselves, and we grow. We want to be something; we want to be proud of ourselves, and therefore we are proud of our country. It’s psychologically understandable, but it’s not rational.

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