July 4th is about cookouts and fireworks — but also patriotism, at least in theory. It's a time in which Americans are supposed to celebrate their country's founding and successes. "Proud to be an American," and all that.
That kind of uncritical patriotism might be a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, especially given 2017's political climate. Luckily, there are more sophisticated ways to understand "love of country" than uncritical endorsement of its history. Perhaps one of the best insights into the nature of a more sophisticated patriotism comes from Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, in an essay titled "Is Patriotism a Virtue?"
MacIntyre argues that the answer to that question is a qualified yes, provided we understand patriotism in the right fashion. He sees patriotism as going beyond mere love of country or even willingness to criticize it, instead defining it as a core foundation of people's lives — a kind of grounding that allows us to be our best selves:
I understand the story of my life in such a way that it is part of the history of my family or of this farm or of this university or of this countryside; and I understand the story of the lives of other individuals around me as embedded in the same larger stories, so that I and they share a common stake in the outcome of that story and in what sort of story it both is and is to be: tragic, heroic, comic. A central contention of the morality of patriotism is that I will obliterate and lose a central dimension of the moral life if I do not understand the enacted narrative of my own individual life as embedded in the history of my country. For if I do not understand it I will not understand what I owe to others or what others owe to me, for what crimes of my nation I am bound to make reparation, for what benefits to my nation I am bound to feel gratitude.
MacIntyre's patriotism is that it doesn't require you to fit into any kind of binary, either loving your country or hating it. It's about understanding the way in which you are bound to your country, the ways in which its prides and sins shape the way you relate to other people the world over. Absent a sense of connection to your own country — a sense of shared responsibility for what happens in your nation— it will be hard for you to live a fulfilling and moral life. Patriotism is less about celebration of government, then, than it is about caring for the people who you share your country with.
There's plenty to critique about MacIntyre's ideas. But the essay is thought-provoking and, at very least, worth a read between beers.
Patriotism essays example
Writing patriotism essays can be a lot of fun. Even though we are not all heroes, we all have our ways of showing patriotism. Sometimes it is by performing an act of patriotism that calls for great courage, other times it is as simple as being there for fellow countrymen in the time of need. What makes these types of essays really interesting is how you can write from personal experience. It gives you a chance to show how and why you consider yourself a patriot. Let us have a look at an example of such an essay below:
Patriotism can be referred to as the love that a citizen has for his or her country. As simple as the definition is, there are as many understandings of that word as there are people. For instance, some believe they are patriotic just because they have the flag of the country flying on the yard, others feel they can only be considered patriotic if they enlist to the army, while others think the word is not only disgusting but also racist.
But in its purest form, patriotism should be looked as the passion and love that one has for their country. It is the passion that makes you want to support, defend, serve, and even change where necessary as way of showing a great love for country and fellow countrymen. One can argue that almost everyone can be patriotic. Even though this patriotism is seldom seen on a day to day basis, it quickly jumps to the surface whenever there is a serious tragedy. Case in point is the September 11 terrorist attack in America. Americans were seen standing in long queues to donate their blood to help the victims that were in dire need. Others displayed their patriotism by enlisting, wearing the colors of the American flag, among many other ways
There are civil society groups that often do campaigns aimed at encouraging people to be patriotic. You can easily notice them from the billboards they erect, the rallies they plan as well as the television adverts. Even though this helps to inspire some patriotism in the general public, true patriotism is intrinsic and does not need the coercion of someone else to come to the surface. True patriots just rise to the occasion when need arises and they are always more than happy to perform their patriotic duty.
One of the greatest misconceptions about patriotism is that when you love your country, you have to hate the others because your country is the best. Anyone that hates foreigners is not patriotic. The same is true to anyone that thinks that their country is always better than other countries for no good reason.
Not everyone is pro patriotism though. There are many that subscribe to the school of thought that patriotism is the government’s way of manipulating her citizens. It is argued that patriotic citizens easily take whatever the government says and this makes it easy to be lied to by the powers that be. But this is neither here nor there. A patriot does not rebel against the constitution of his country – he works to uphold the laws of the land by respecting the authorities and laws of the land. However, this doesn’t mean that patriots should take whatever is shoved down their throat. It is their responsibility to fight any attempt by the political class to undermine the rights and freedoms of the citizens. Those that stand up for the truth, even when it is very unpopular to do so, are the real patriots.
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