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Patriotism, Love of Country Or Perhaps Serving Those in Government?

Gianni Truvianni

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I have always considered patriotism to be something that has little place outside of sports but before I touch upon that I would like to make an attempt at defining what exactly is patriotism. Patriotism as a dictionary would say is love of one's country but what exactly does this in my opinion vague explanation mean in practice? We can say that love is a strong feeling of affection one person can have for his or her children or the person he or she is married to. This love can manifest itself in many ways but predominantly share the main goal which is to provide that person with joy and happiness.

However if the subject is one's country what precisely is it that one is supposed to be loving when one loves a country? Should one love the landscape, that comprises one's country which may come in the form of mountains, beaches and trees even if what be found in one's country be not all that much different then in other countries? Or perhaps one should love the people of one's country not because one has a personal relationship with them in the form that they have in their personality what we look to have in those we call friends but for the mere coincidence that one was born within the same geopolitical boundaries they were? Or is patriotism really about supporting the decisions made by those in government regardless of weather one may agree with them or not? In other words “my country, right or wrong!".

I believe in my personal opinion if no one else's that patriotism for the sake of itself toward any nation on earth is an act absurdity to such degree that I do not even know what to compare it to. First of all if we look at this from a purely logical point of view; are not nations created to serve man and not the other way around? Nations by this I mean government so with this in mind I ask is there a point to serving a nation which does not serve its people?

A German philosopher, once stated and was repeated by Kennedy in his statement that said “ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country" but then again is not the purpose of the country or should it not be the purpose of a country to serve its citizens? If this be the case then why should people “do for their country" if that country is not doing for them and if they stand not to benefit as a society or even as individuals? In the case of the United States it was during the war in Vietnam that Kennedy quoted this statement to get men to go fight to defend a country that was not a democracy as we know it from becoming even less democratic then it already was. Communism had to be stopped as the fall of Vietnam would lead to a domino effect though most of the countries in the area had already succumbed to it but for some reason making a stance in Vietnam which eventually failed would make a big difference in the large scheme of issues.

I have traveled to many a country during my time and have witnessed many an attempt by to ferment patriotism which to a large extent though perhaps a slightly exaggerated one I would consider to be brainwashing. For instance; not that it ever troubled me much as I never considered it a sacrifice but a slight annoyance that in the United States people are “forced" to stand up for the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner" before the start of every sporting event. Actually with regards to this I must confess never to have taken note of this till one day my brother-in-law from Spain asked me why it was the case. I really did not know what to say at the time as to the reason thinking it a natural act so I asked him if this was not the case in Spain to which he replied that it was but only when the sporting event involved a team from another country. For instance if the Spanish national football team were playing against that of another country then and only then would the national anthems of both countries be played. This however was never done when it involved local teams even should it be on a professional level much less on any other as is the occurrence in the United States where even when infants play sports, one is required to stand and listen. Now, it even strikes me as being strange that a man who was born and raised in a country run by Francisco Franco found this to be overdoing it.

After this I marked how the United States was actually the only country in the world that held this practice of playing their national anthem before sporting events as no where else did I see this. When it comes to creating feelings of patriotism or attempting to do so the United States also has other ways which are unique as is making it compulsory for all elementary school students to stand up and repeat every morning as if mechanically the slogan that starts “I pledge alliance to the flag of the United States of America" and ends “and justice for all". As for these last words; I though not a fan of this sort of music am aware that they were used as the title to one of the albums by the heavy metal band “Metallica".

If the subject be one of forcing or attempting to persuade people to feeling passionate about their country then the United States is not alone in what I would consider to be such useless gestures in order to implement sentiments that to my way of thinking are futile. For instance it is in countries such as Poland, Peru, and Argentina where I was informed during my visits that those who live in houses are told to put up the national flag on certain holidays with those who refrain from doing so being finned. Of course this practice is surpassed in North Korea where one can and will be imprisoned if one does not have in one's place of residence a portrait of the so called “great leader". The concept of portraits of leaders was also to be found in the Soviet Union were during my visit in 1988 my eyes never failed to locate in hotel lobbies and other public buildings the ever present face of Lenin.

On the lighter side of this it is my memory that will never rid itself of the image that I took in Chile on a national holiday when I turned on the television to see that seven of the eight local channels (both public and private) were broadcasting a military parade that was taking place that day in Santiago. It is not that in the US one will not see a presidential Address to the nation transmitted on every channel (other then cable) but a military parade on almost every channel is a bit ridiculous to my taste.

With regards to the United States however it at least does offer one more freedom with regards to certain matters such as one is not required to place a flag on one's home under threat of fine or worse and furthermore one is even guaranteed the constitutional right to burn the flag in acts of apparent protest. On a private matter however I think it would also be gratifying if “classical American" art did not have to be so geared toward patriotism. When referring to American art I have in mind musical pieces like “Stars and Stripes" and paintings were the never ending war glorifying theme along with “Ole Glory" (American national flag) are as if a must to anything that is to be considered American art.

Patriotism however to a large extent has changed in recent years to include less harmful tactics then sending people to fight wars though also inane practices such as attempts to make one purchase products because they be made in one's country though those made in another may be lower in price and higher in quality. It always being with the argument that one has an obligation to support those factories that be in one's country though strangely enough in America a lot of the so called “American products" are not even made in the US while those that are imported are. This “trend" if such it can be called has even gone on to include “consumerism" in America where in the latest financial crises people are being told that going out and buying as much as possible is now the “patriotic" thing to do along with watching sports of boredom such as baseball.

In a sense I as an American can state that if we think of how the United States was formed or more why it was formed; this was in part because the then colonies were being taxed by the British Crown (George II) without having representation in the British Parliament more then feelings of wanting to have a country. With regards to nations it is in my view ideals that comprise the essence of what they are which if they be freedom of the individual and the defense of those basic rights that for the most part are considered human then those nations are those that should be defended but never loosing sight that it is the ideals of the nation not the nation in and itself that merits such actions. When I say ideals I mean concepts of freedom that uphold human dignity and not merely symbols such as flags or leaders because if one really thinks the matter over; it is when a nation defends those principals that it becomes worth making sacrifices for but if the nation does such then it is not the nation that one supports but those ideals which be not of nation but of humanity.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. As for the details regarding my life I would say that there is nothing that lifts them above the ordinary. I was born in New York City in 1967 on May 21st and am presently living in Warsaw, Poland where I wrote my first book “New York's Opera Society" now Available on Amazon.


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