Patriotism vs. Nationalsim: The Difference Between Constructive Love And Blind Loyalty

Patriotism vs. Nationalsim: The Difference Between Constructive Love And Blind Loyalty

Loving your nation is not a crime, but that love should never blind us to its transgressions. We must hold them accountable for their misdeeds.
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In today’s politically charged climate, both in the US and in South Asia, it is safe to say that politics have become incredibly divisive and polarizing. They have left us more and more exasperated with our bureaucracies and policies. Born from such conflicts are both nationalists and patriots, two terms which sound quite similar but I feel have taken on two distinct definitions. And it is important to distinguish the fine line between nationalism and patriotism, in order for us to improve as a society. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss nationalism and patriotism within the United States, India, and Pakistan.

Allow me to distinguish the difference between patriotism and nationalism, as I have always interpreted the two concepts: Nationalism is where no matter what your country or government does, you will always support it and justify it, no matter how wrong or harmful it is. In essence, it is a type of brainwashing used to amass blind and unwavering loyalty. Patriotism, on the other hand, is having a deep love for your country and/or government, but not so much that one gets lost in their devotion. It involves constructive criticism of one’s nation and its policies that they believe to be wrong and unjust, not to be pessimistic, but because they want better for their country and for their people. A patriot denounces the actions of their government that they know are unacceptable. A nationalist believes that their nation is superior to all others and therefore their actions can always be justified. A patriot is proud of their nation, yet admits its faults and does not belittle other nations and regard them as inferior. The danger arises when a patriot becomes a nationalist, when they find a rationalization for everything that the state does, despite any repercussions that may arise.

Has nationalism always been a part of our society? Without a doubt. It is nothing new, and it has been used for propaganda to garner support for countless causes and policies enacted by our different administrations. It has been used to justify acts of terror, human rights violations, and countless other atrocities.

Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and since his election, the rise of nationalism among his supporters has been alarming. From defending his words in the leaked recording of the Access Hollywood tape saying that it was “locker room talk”, to justifying him calling Mexicans rapists, to his more recent acts as president such as the countless drone strikes in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria (one of which involved the death of over 200 civilians), and his collusion with Russia, it seems there is nothing Donald Trump can do that will earn him condemnation from his devoted base.

Nationalists refuse to regard the actions of the United States critically when it comes to their foreign policy and their misdeeds. A nationalist will not condemn white supremacy (in fact, many of them promote it), and will remain willfully ignorant of the transgressions of the US and their government, whether it involves the systematic institutionalized racism within low socioeconomic communities, or the actions of the government in the Middle East. I have encountered countless people whom I would deem nationalists who have reluctantly admitted that yes, some of the actions and policies of the United States government are “problematic” and “imperfect” but that on the whole they are still better than other nations. They don’t see the need for improvement. Are laws and policies in the US better than other countries? Perhaps in some ways, but that doesn't mean that we accept the imperfections and infractions of the country. As human beings we must be constantly working on improving things that need to be improved, and criticizing where criticism is warranted.

When it comes to peace between Pakistan and India, nationalists have a staggering amount of tunnel vision. Indian nationalists claim that they are always the ones to initiate and maintain peace talks, and that it is Pakistan that keeps halting the process with their acts of terror and their overall refusal to cooperate with India with regards to Kashmir and other conflicts. They refuse to acknowledge their own hand in preventing peace when, for example, the army blinds protesters in Kashmir, or when political parties such as MNS and BJP ban Pakistani artists in India. Indian nationalists justify the army’s actions saying that they are all in self-defense from Pakistan. In essence, they are blind to their own contributions to the conflict.

Meanwhile, Pakistani nationalists are no less oblivious; they claim that the actions against India are either in self-defense or to “liberate” Kashmir. They assert that the treatment of Muslims in India, such as the lynchings of Muslims who are accused of eating beef in regions of the country where Hindu nationalism is rising, is why they give thanks that they have their own Muslim country where they are free to practice their religion without persecution. But again, they fail to recognize their own privilege: Sure, as a Sunni Muslim majority nation, many of the citizens are free from persecution. But what about the mistreatment of Shias, Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, and other minorities within the nation? It is true, some minorities face more obstacles than others, and there are certainly people within these minority groups who would contend that they have faced minimal discrimination. However, for a large group of such people, they cannot enjoy the same privileges that many Sunni Muslims in Pakistan do enjoy. The Constitution of Pakistan does discriminate against minorities, and it is estimated that around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year.

Also keep in mind, that there are many Pakistani and Indian nationalists who criticize constantly put down their governments when comparing them to the western nations, which in their eyes are an ideal utopia. But they become nationalists very quickly when the comparison is between India and Pakistan, each boasting the perceived superiority of their own nation.

In my opinion, there is no question that religious minorities are treated much better and have more rights in India than in Pakistan. It is far easier for a Muslim in India to rise up in ranks than a religious minority in Pakistan. However, this does not mean that their circumstances are perfect, and that changes in society and the system are not necessary for the well-being and equality of minorities. Just because minorities have more rights and are in a better position in India than those in Pakistan, it doesn’t negate the need for criticizing those policies that are discriminatory and changing the narrative of Hindu nationalist parties. It also does not mean that Pakistan has not made progress on this front, like when the government of Pakistan recently restored a historic Hindu mandir in Punjab, and that such accomplishments should be ignored.

The bottom line here is that infractions have been committed by the administrations on both sides of the border; neither one is blameless in keeping the conflict alive. And both nations have flaws which need to be improved, and have made progresses which must be acknowledged and celebrated. As human beings we must abide by our morals and advocate for the rights of everyone. Loyalty should never be blind. A patriot’s love is constructive, whereas a nationalist believes in the superiority of their nation above all others, hence why it can do no wrong. I'm extremely loyal to the nations that I identify with; I love my culture and am proud to call myself a member of such nations. But that doesn't mean I will remain indifferent to what they do wrong.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation about this topic with a family member and they eloquently distinguished the difference between nationalism and patriotism: There are two types of love which a parent can show for their child. In the first type of love, your child commits murder and you take them to the police and hold them accountable for what they’ve done. In the second type of love, your child commits murder and you help them dispose of the body.

Which one would you want to be?

Cover Image Credit: www.quotemaster.org

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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