Monday, September 28, 2009

Patriotism - What's the Point?

Flag courtesy of Wikimedia. Public Domain

I was speaking with a liberal awhile back and, while I can hardly remember what the discussion was about, one particular argument he made right towards the end has stuck in my mind ever since. He said:

"Conservatives have already shown that they will not do what's right or effective on principle. They always base their decisions on what America is, which is always changing!"

I don't know exactly how true that statement is, but I'm hoping not as true as he thought it is, for if we truly have no principle, what are we fighting for? What's the point? Why should, someone who believes as this man believes, be heartless enough to ask somebody to give up their life, their happiness, their property, even a moment of joy for a big fat nothing.

Liberals like this fellow always talk about how patriotic they are, but if they feel this way about their country, how can they be patriotic? How could they have the heart to be? If your nation is truly nothing, represents nothing, stands for nothing, why should anyone care? And even if, for practical reasons, patriotism is useful, don't you think you owe the people who have been so good to you more then a big fat nothing in return for their service?


FaithfulinPrayer said...

The socialist movement doesn't want us to stand for anything, because if you don't stand for anything, you will not stand up for anything and therefore they can change America into whatever they want. This is why it is so important for us American's to stand up for our freedoms.

Michelle Rosalyn Matthews said...

Very well-said, Jeremy.

askcherlock said...

I would be reticent about taking one person's opinion about what Liberals are or are not as dogma. I used to believe that Conservatives took proprietary responsibility for fiscal policies. But look at the collapse of financial entities under the former president. It is not that we Liberals are fiscally irresponsible, but we also look toward the needs within our own citizenry in an effort to make America better and stronger. How can we attempt to spread Democracy when the world sees us as a violent nation which does not even take care of its own?

One Party is not better than the other. We need a balance and hopefully, that will one day be achieved.

jONYX said...

Yes, I may be deviating a bit from the general point of the topic, but it bugs me to no end when people are constantly separated into categories. Either one is liberal or conservative, a brangeloonie or a somethinganiston. Forgive me for the second example! =)

Anyway, it seems that people forget that everyone is simply an individual with an opinion. What I normally see occur is one tiny opinion defines a person immediately and they are either friend or foe. It seems impossible to agree with what may be a liberal point of view and a conservative at once. I despise the mentality of separation.

The world knows what it needs. Being an American, it's obvious what the country needs, some form of change for the better. The health system for example is utter trash. Corporations take advantage of the people and act according to their own benefit rather than others. While I previously made close to six figures post college and could afford insurance, it was laughable what the options were. I remembering paid what is considered a cheap amount ($300), still had to pay a deductible (which people who pay more have to do anyway so it seems, the amounts just vary). I recall my eye meds Restasis and the insurance only covering $10 of $130. Thanks but no thanks, I could pay for that solo myself and save money wasted on insurance. After all, with all the fine prints and carefully chosen words(pre-existing conditions, etc), who knows what they may actually cover.

If everyone could only just work together and stop fighting one another just because they're wearing the opposing label, maybe things could move forward. The people who classify themselves as conservatives that I've read of or seen on tv do appear childish, almost as if they're against anything with the potential of helping people. They seem stubborn and like they only want to make life difficult for others.

I don't quite get why people of this nature exist, let alone in politics.

Anyway, I may go on for ages on the same thing but I rather not send anyone to sleep just yet. :P

Jeremy Janson said...

It may seem like a trifle but, what, exactly is a liberal. No I'm not trying to play semantics here even if it does come off that way, but there are Conservative Democrats, there are Populist Democrats, Trade Unionist Democrats, there are Socialist Democrats and there are even some Liberal Republicans. Sure, overall the Democrats are the liberal party overall but there are certainly other influences.

In my mind, I consider liberalism a philosophy. Not every liberal may subscribe to every element of liberal philosophy, just as I don't describe to every element of Conservative (especially social conservatism and lack of consumer protection), Populism (especially social conservatism and mob rule), or Libertarianism (consumer protection and local city planning), but I would overall call myself these things.

I apologize that I made it sound like every liberal falls in to this category, there may have been some anger there and I will confess it. But I think as a symbol or personification of the liberal philosophy proper, as supposed to socialism, trade unionism, environmentalism, left populism, et cetera, there is still meaning there.

Alexei Zoubov said...

Food for thought.
Ambrose Bierce said: "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first."

More: "Patriotism is fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and as irrational as a headless hen."

Jeremy Janson said...

Hey Alexei, great to see you stopping by!

I think what Ambrose Bierce said about Patriotism can be said about anything people find valuable and important, form religion to family values to "freedom" to "progress" to you name it. The difference between the scoundrel and the believer, of course, is two-fold: first, genuine intent, which is obvious, and second, humility, the humility to see that this can only go so far.

Humility does not, however, condone complacency, it merely recognizes that all things can only go so far. Belief can still be very vehement, but there's a decency to it. See, you don't assume it is so great that it can't possibly be wrong. Instead of "My Country Right or Wrong", "I always love my country, but I do know that even America can be wrong." As you can see in the posts below, I have no problem pointing out where America's gone seriously wrong, from "Cowboys and Indiankillers" (Redneck Section) to "The Flaw of Small Ambitions - Obama and Afghanistan."

Still, this quote has survived as long as it has for good reason, and that good reason is that it does, indeed, carry a very important and sometimes ignored meaning. The fact that America can and should stand for something is not really disproven by this meaning, just put in perspective.

Anonymous said...

I think you're blurring two very different things. There is a country - the geographical area. Then there are the people in that country. I would argue that you cannot be patriotic to a geographical area as it, in itself, is worthless without its PEOPLE. It's PEOPLE are what makes a country something special. I would argue that you can only be patriotic to your fellow men and women and therefore your patriotism is wholly dependent on your fellow citizens' opinions. This therefore, in a very round about way apparently, makes patriotism pointless because people's opinions change constantly and there are MANY OPINIONS within a country - how could you be patriotic to all of them?

Jeremy Janson said...

Good question. This is when it becomes useful to turn to a Platonic idea expounded upon by, among others, Saint Paul and Saint Augustine. People have two kinds of thoughts, the thoughts of the mind, and the thoughts of the soul. A persons soul is their basic essence, the things they love, the things they see on the most basic level, their experiences. A persons mind is somewhat detached from them, and is their manipulatable, dynamic, learning side that creates, amuses, can see past themselves and their experiences while still having access to these, and is both more playful and more inevitably changing.

I agree with you absolutely that a persons patriotism is their loyalty to a people, rather then a place, and in fact countries do change their borders. In fact, a really interesting study on this is the New Testament Kingdom of Heaven, described by Paul and prophecies as "a nation which is not a nation" (Romans 8) that consists entirely of ideas and the ruler ship of The Lord, rather then any particular place. But just because you cannot really be loyal to the opinions of the mind, does not mean you cannot be loyal to the more definitive and unchanging and characterizing opinions of the Soul of America or whatever other country in which you reside.