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September 16, 2013 / Congau

Can You Love Your Country?

You may love the place where you grew up. That place gave you the first impressions existing in your mind and they are likely to be stronger than anything you have later experienced. Wherever you are now, that place lives in your memory.

For some the memories are bitter. Then the love is conditional or it may not exist at all. The love of one’s home cannot be taken for granted.

How about the love for your country? You also grew up in a country, didn’t you. Your hometown was surely placed within the borders of a country just as it was located somewhere on the planet Earth, but the little child that you once were hardly knew it. The place itself, however, your town or your village, that you knew and that you understood. A place is something concretely existing whereas a country is a constructed abstraction. Those mental images from your childhood are from the place where you actually lived. I don’t think you remember political borders.

You remember places and people from a time that is now gone. Something that was once so close to you, has disappeared and will never come back. It makes you sad. That’s what is called nostalgia. Nostalgia is a kind of love.

Whether it was good or bad, it is likely that you love your lost childhood. As an extension of that feeling, you may love your hometown, but your country, what is that?

A country is a political unit, but no one loves politics. (Only a small city state administers a household which is actually dear to the inhabitants.) But love is devotion, and devoted citizens are extremely useful for politics. The rulers need loyal subjects in their fight against other princes and presidents. They need patriots and therefore patriotism has been cultivated to be used as a political instrument. An illusion has been created. It was taken from a real feeling towards a real entity (the hometown) and transferred to an object which doesn’t really exist.

It is as if you were looking at your beloved, your hometown. You see houses and streets, places where you played as a child and paths you used to walk. While contemplating it all, the real scene gets covered by a mere symbol – maybe a flag or a map, maybe a national costume or the tunes of a national anthem – and you are told that this represents your beloved and that in fact it is your beloved. They call it a country, but no one can show you the country the way they can show you the town, and you settle for the symbolic substitutes. They want you to love a symbol, an illusion. You remember your hometown and accept the deception.

One Comment

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  1. bejamin4 / Sep 16 2013 2:30 pm

    It’s a good question. A country might be too distant to us to be truly loved. We are much more removed from our country. Much easier to love a person, a city, a town. Perhaps scope and distance has an effect on love. Could we really love the world or universe when we haven’t come in contact with much of it? Love this post. Really made me think about the idea of love.

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