The American Way

What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen? Understanding the American psyche.

Patriotism: Virtue or Sin?

Is patriotism good or bad? Or is it neither?

While looking up quotes on patriotism, I found that the majority of quotes appeared to be negative.  Take these quotes, for example: 

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons—Betrand Russell 

Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy—George Bernard Shaw 

It is the patriotic duty of every man to lie for his country—Alfred Adler  

So is it wrong for us to be patriotic? Has it now become some type of delusional behavior? When did patriotism turn from being a virtue to being a sin? Merriam-Webster defines patriotism as "love or devotion to one's country." That in and of itself sounds pretty good. The Oxford Dictionary defines patriotism as "vigorous support for one’s country." Again, sounds pretty good to me. Now could it be that the concept of patriotism is just fine, but it's all in the way we express it? These definitions don't include "even if it discriminates or causes harm to others", nor does it include "even when we seriously question our country." The way we choose to express that patriotism is solely up to us.  Therefore, the concept of patriotism is sound—loyalty and committment. It's how we express that patriotism that colors our views of it. We love our parents, but who among us hasn't questioned them sometimes? (Or all the time, for those of you who have experienced the joy of raising a teenager.) Questioning them doesn't mean we love them any less or aren't as loyal to them. Let's carry that concept to patriotism. We can love and be loyal to our country, but still give a healthy dose of "What are we doing??" when there is something that is not quite right. In fact, patriotism can mean that we are obligated to speak up when something isn't working—because we love our country enough to realize it's not perfect, and there is always room for improvement. We love our country because of its imperfections.And it's perfectly patriotic to accept it, with all its faults and triumphs.   

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The American Way