A friend on another blog posed the question, "What good is Patriotism?" He went on to write that he found no good in it. I have to disagree.
First, I need to define what I call and feel as Patriotism. It is pride in the ideas that make our people great. It's not really about the country. It is more about the idea of freedom and just government than about borders.
It is not pride in the flag. The flag is a symbol of this country. The meanings of symbols change, both for the good and the bad over time. The both the swastika and the cross have been symbols that have been both positive and negative depending on when they were used and who was using them. Who knows what this country will represent in 100 years, 500 years, or more. To pass laws that requires a special treatment of a symbol is dangerous. When the government of this land tries to pass such laws, the patriotism in me says No, We should protect that freedom of expression (like flag burning) against the government for the future when it might be well warranted. (Having that right today makes it a lot easier to pick out the wackos)
It is not pride in the government. A certain amount of government is necessary for the operation of a society. Government should help a people to band together to do things that are for the common good that would otherwise not happen if left to the private sector. Road, utilities, schools, protection, and law enforcement(very different from protection) come to mind. The purchase of art, funding of unnecessary projects, and passage of unnecessary laws (laws banning poker for one) are corruption of the governmental process. Patriotism tells me speak up about the wrong that government does especially the waste and corruption that exists. Patriotism is a check on the power that still allows the people to govern.
Patriotism makes me cheer when a people rises up to throw off the shackles of oppression. When the people of a land rise against a Marcos, or apartite, or a politburo, my heart cheers them on. When they try and fail like Tienamin Square, my heart cries for them, because Patriotism isn't about this country, it is about the ideas of freedom that founded this country. When those ideas spring up elsewhere in the world, I know it is their Patriotism that makes them act and keeps the ideas of freedom alive.
I think my friend and I have different definitions for the word patriot. What he calls patriotism, I would call blind faith. Patriots follow and protect freedom. Blind faith follows people and political parties without thought. If I'm right about the definitions, then my and my friend agree.
Patriotism is what makes the people "The People." It protects our way of life when it drives people to act in protection of their rights. Patriotism has grown and suffered over the years. It was strong in the 1940's and helped to keep the western world free. I'd have to say it is down today. But it is not dead. It slumbers, waiting for a tyrant to step over the line. Patriots and patriotism will protect us so long as the idea of freedom lives.
Keep the dream alive.