If you really love your country, you would not be satisfied with platitudes and flag-waving, national anthems and military parades. A truly patriotic citizen does not sit idle as the land and waters of his country are polluted by extractive industries. A true patriot does not sneer and scorn her fellow citizens who live in poverty or are unhoused. A true patriot does not place higher loyalties with corporations than human beings. A true patriot sees no glory in war, nor security in spending more on military than on peace and justice for all of humankind.
For too long, “love of one’s country” has been defined as “obeying authority without question” and refusing to admit any faults or flaws in one’s nation. But to truly love one’s country, you must unflinchingly admit its problems, flaws, failures, and injustices. You must speak truth about its shortcomings and wrongdoings. You must stand up for your fellow citizens against the machinery of greed. You must be willing to block the engines of extraction from destroying our purple mountains’ majesty and spilling toxins from sea to shining sea. True love of one’s country compels citizens to take a knee during the national anthem in order to protest police brutality. True love of one’s country forces citizens to whistle-blow on the mass surveillance state when it violates our civil liberties. True love of one’s country makes citizens stand in front of the fire-hoses of police officers to stop racism, environmental destruction, and economic injustice.
True love of one’s country is neither blind nor nostalgic. It is painful and hard. If our fellow citizens are suffering, we suffer alongside them. If our fellow citizens weep in sorrow, we weep beside them, as well. If despair weighs down their shoulders, our love forces us to taste that despair and to know it as our own. Love of one’s country means that if even one of our nation’s children goes to bed hungry, we cannot sleep until they’re fed. If any citizen feels fear, we do not rest until their sense of safety matches ours.
Real love of one’s country is a difficult burden and a powerful restoration of our common humanity … and it does not stop at our nation’s borders.
A love that is merely self-absorbed navel-gazing is not love; it is narcissism. To truly love your country, you must look beyond its borders. A deep and meaningful love of one’s country recognizes that our nation is one among many others. Such love forces us to restrain our nation’s bullying and develop our nation’s respect and understanding for all others. To truly love your country is to hold it accountable for its actions. You must question the need for war, the glorification of military might, the ways supremacy and imperialism manifest as military interventions. A true patriot calls the bluff on these forms of “national security”. Security is found in equality, peace, and justice – and nowhere else.
Our nation is but one small patch on a very large planet … a planet that is a tiny blue-green orb floating in an immense ocean of space, small as a single foam bubble on a wave. True love for one’s country never forgets its place in this interconnected universe – not on top of everything else, but beside all beings in the enormity of existence. Blind belief in superiority or exceptionalism is not love; it is delusion. Real love is humbling, searing, soul-searching. It forces us to remember that we are part of – not in charge of – a vast, complex and interconnected world.
If you really love your country … you will love your fellow citizens. You will stand up for them, confront the injustices caused by greed, denounce corporations causing harm, reclaim democracy for all your people, protect the mountains and the cities, the valleys and the plains, the water, air, and land. You will care for the vulnerable, defend everyone’s rights with the same vehemence as your own, protect the children of all humankind … and wage peace and justice for the world they will inherit when we are gone.
Author/Actress Rivera Sun syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance and other books, including a study guide to making change with nonviolent action. Website: https://www.riverasun.com
The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but can be read here.
From the archives: