You are facing a rather challenging home assignment. If you were told to write an essay about happiness or, say, love, it would probably be much easier for you to generate a few original ideas. However, when it comes to patriotism, we can hardly refrain from repeating those well-learnt words: being patriotic means loving your country.
It is a crucial thought of most famous quotations, some of which your groupmates will definitely insert in their papers. I bet, your professor already knows them all by heart. Such situation is more than familiar to me. So, I remember, every time I sat to type my essays about some abstract and philosophical things, I tried to show up with the ideas that would either be opposite to those accepted by the majority, or bring an absolutely new vision of the issue discussed.
Sounds risky? Yeah, kind of, I admit. But let’s check out how you can write your assignment on patriotism in an unhackneyed, creative manner, so it will stand out among the other papers!
Idea #1: It Is a Totally Man-Cast Feeling, Not a Natural One
The idea may look quite complex at first sight, but we are going to make it out right now. You see, everything we consider “abstract notions”, for example, happiness, faith, freedom, or patriotism itself, is stored in our memory in the form of the so-called concepts. It is another question though how these concepts are shaped. But what we can know for sure is that we would easily distinguish happiness from anger and pain from comfort.
So, patriotism is an absolutely unique concept, stored in our mind, which we can never confuse with anything else. However, our happiness or anger are also caused by the particular hormones, which are activated by certain physical stimuli, so both feelings actually have completely real, physical nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, can be considered an artificially cast and caused feeling, or even a mixture of different feelings.
Just remember the last time you watched or even took part in some public demonstration. All those special mottos, colors, speeches are designed to evoke a particular emotion, which can be defined as patriotism. It is not what you feel every day, it is what you feel on very special occasions. So, we can assume that the very atmosphere of these occasions is created with the purpose to remind us that we are, well, patriots. At least we have to be.
Idea #2: It Is Neither Trust in Your Government, nor Love of Your Country
Lawrence W. Reed, current President of the Foundation of Economic Education, the US, makes this statement in his article “The True Meaning of Patriotism”. He writes that believing blindly in everything our governments tell us cannot be patriotism, neither can loving “the country” (i.e. its landscapes, traditions, people, etc.).
Reed claims that for him patriotism means the ideas he thinks of when he is feeling patriotic. If you are an American, you can find these ideas in the Declaration of Independence. If you come from any other country, such “patriotic” principles must be written in the constitution or any other official document, so every citizen of your motherland could know what it stands for and what it requires from all of you.
As the Declaration of Independence declares, supports, and protects the principle of freedom, Reed writes that American patriotism is about understanding, supporting, and teaching it. This sounds rather rational, doesn’t it? So, when we are calling ourselves patriots, each of us should think of certain ideas and principles, put on paper and acknowledged by our whole nation, instead of claiming that we love our rivers, city streets, or whatever, and that we are ready to die for them. You won’t go die for a river, will you?
Idea #3: Could You Write That It Is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel?
No, no, it’s not my own metaphor. It belongs to Samuel Johnson, the English essay writer, poet, and moralist, who lived and worked in the 18th century. It does not imply, however, that the thinker himself did not accept the very concept of patriotism. With this saying he criticized “self-professed” patriots of his time who, as we can guess today, employed patriotism to conceal their absolutely non-patriotic deeds.
Despite the fact that Dr. Johnson talked about this problem about three centuries ago, it is still quite topical for our time. Even if we think of any current war for a while, we cannot but notice that all those patriotic slogans only add more fuel to the fire, literally, making us believe that this war is really necessary to protect our national interests.
But is it really so? If we close our ears in order to not hear those words, close our eyes in order not to see what’s going on, we will realize that we do not want to die for our motherlands. But we want to study in schools and colleges, work for successful corporations, and create beautiful pieces of art for them. And this wish is pure patriotism.