DISCLAIMER: A very disorganised and disoriented post ahead!
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
-George Bernard Shaw
I have wondered about the same since I was in school. If I were to be born in Germany, wouldn’t have Germany qualified as the greatest nation for me? Wouldn’t then Deutsch be the most poetic language of all? And how proud would I be of the fact that my Great Nation Germany, and not India (As Indians like to claim), is the cradle of mankind. India for me would be the dirty, poor country of the Third World then. I would be ready to die for the cause of Deutschland. Same would be the case if I were to be born in Pakistan. I would be appalled at India’s insensitivity towards human rights, I would back Pakistan towards ‘saving’ Kashmir and cry indignantly every time India would accuse us for exporting terror.
But then, wise people have argued with me over this. One even said, ‘God chose you to be born in India, which incidentally happens to be the greatest Nation of the world.’ I kept quiet then not really understanding the reason for God’s unprecedented generosity for me. On a more serious note though, I believe that Patriotism is a very artificially created virtue and it is maintained through a network of lies, falsehoods and assumptions. It is a menace, actually.
It is great to love one’s motherland but why is everyone so arrogant about it? We don’t get to choose the place of our birth, so why gloat about something that was decided by fate? It’s not wrong to love one’s country, but why does the love have to stop at the border? Why is the hatred for the neighbouring country considered to be the barometer of one’s patriotism?
Isn’t the Patriot the one who loves his country and would not hesitate to lay down his life for it’s cause? And isn’t he the same guy who has the moral authority to raise hell, run amok, and destroy public property in frenzied outbursts of morality? If not anarchy, isn’t Patriotism ‘Selective Altruism’?
It is natural to think of Army men as the most patriotic of all people given the nature of their vocation. But is not the Old Man who stubbornly refuses to pay bribes to corrupt Government Officials a Patriot as well? Or the little Kid who plants trees in his garden after learning about deforestation in School? Or the Common Man who silently wipes a tear when terrorists hold his city to ransom? Perhaps, the zealot who bellows his lungs out about India’s cultural superiority over the rest of the world is greatest patriot of all.
For me, it’s selective altruism. Yes, that’s what it is.. Selective Altruism!!