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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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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