What is Patriotism?

Even by asking the question we display a cold, abstract quality in ourselves, for it is an emotion more than it is an idea. Nonetheless, the question is often asked so it should be answered. A nation is akin to an extended family. Considering it thus, one easily dispenses with prejudices towards patriotism. To love one’s family must one consider it the best? Must one think it entirely unique? Of course not. One most only treasure it as one’s own, acknowledging that other families do the same. Do we assume that no one can gain entrance to our families? Of course not. If, for example, one’s brother or sister happened to adopt a child he or she would, in time, be thought of as one’s kin. Families, however, are particular. Is this because of their “values”? To some extent. There are Christian families. There are Muslim families. There are conservative families. There are Marxist families. But values are just one element of their traits, which are a matter of their genes, of course, but also of the habits which become all the routines and rituals that are comparable to the social and cultural institutions of a country, maintaining its traditions, its standards and its laws. While acknowledging the practical significance of these peculiarities of nations might make one a nationalist, appreciating the peculiarity of one’s own nation should make one a patriot. They are peculiarities of home.

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