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Independence Day

August 15, 2013

This Independence Day my mind raises some questions which may go against the fervour and flavour of patriotism at this occasion. It is about patriotism itself. What is patriotism? Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary simply says “love for your country and willingness to defend it.” http://www.wiktionary says “(i) love of country; (ii) devotion to the welfare of one’s compatriots; (iii) the virtues and actions of a patriot; (iv) the passion which inspires one to serve one’s country.

Now the question is whether it is necessary for one to have patriotism in oneself; is it not enough only to be morally and ethically right? Why is not enough only to be right in what you do rather than linking it to patriotism? Afterall sometimes being patriotic may not always mean being right and being right may lead to being unpatriotic. From where to draw inference for our patriotism – constitution, government, administrative rules? Many times many of the above may have something which go against the basic tenets of morality and righteousness. Patriotism may not be or generally will not be absolute in terms of ethics and morality. For example in the times of Nazi Germany, people following Hitler may very well be considered as patriotic for the nation and its people and government, but was that what is called patriotism. Another example may be of nuclear armament; at some point of time arming one’s nation with nuclear (and chemical) weapons might have been considered patriotic (but that was against humanity, which is much higher than national interests) but at other time in those very same nations nuclear disarmament might be considered patriotic.

Now how patriotism, which is allegiance towards government or people of a particular geographical area, is different from religious allegiance to a particular religion? People may argue that patriotism is different from religious allegiance as well as beyond religious allegiance; it encompasses religion, ethnicity, race, languge, cast, creed etc. But, on behalf of some, I can argue that religious allegiance may even go further beyond national allegiance, because religious allegiance has apart from all the above (except inclusion of other religions) encompasses geographical boundaries of nation states. So we can observe that patriotism and religious allegiance has many things in common and differences are only geographical area and a particular religion. Further, people following religion has much stronger arguement backing them if you believe in god, prophet, religion and holy scriptures. Rejecting any of the above may be considered apostasy and blasphemy and as well come with a red slip written on it “DEATH”. Whereas being critical or reecting nation and its government may not be so bad and may not always command such harsh retribution (sometimes may very well be welcomed). So, it can be inferred that those who have belief in god, prophet and religion have much stronger point in holding religious allegiance rather than being patriotic.

These are the thoughts that I considered worth contemplating and dwelling into. Whether morality, ethics, righteousness etc. are not more worthy traits than patriotism? And as far as religious allegiance is considered, I didn’t have to consider that at all because of my religious beliefs or rather non-beliefs.

Coming back to Independence Day, I think we should celebrate it because in it we clebebrate not our patriotism but the win of right over wrong, freedom over oppression, self governance (not in absolute terms but to some extent) over chains of alien rule.

Happy Independence Day from a skeptic patriot.

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