The Limits of Patriotism... ?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Patriotism in its simplest definition is the love of one's country. It deals with the convictions that the county of one's birth and origin should be served with might and dedication. Patriotism calls for deep respect and defence of the rights and integrity of one's nation against any form of unjust insurrection or external aggression.

It deals also with preserving the image and character of one's nation. Besides, living within the confines of the law- respecting the ordinances and its stipulations are also ways and means of being patriotic among citizens of a nation. Indeed deep respect for the rights of others and allowing people to live out their lives in dignity -without molestations are acts of patriotism among citizens.

Even doing one's duty properly for the service of one another and for the common good are wonderful ways of being patriotic among citizens. Otherwise how can we talk about love of our county and respect for her laws without paying attention to the well- being of people living with and around us. And so effective love of the county is not in the air. Neither is it to be read only in the pages of Newspapers.

It involves largely what we do and how we live in community with one another in the society. For instance, the way we do our work in our various work places- with indifference and aparty cannot be a good sign of love of one's nation. Many Nigerians who say they love their country have incredible bad attitude to work and public service. People around us do not do their work well.

Yet they demand a whole lot of emunerations for doing nothing. And this is part of the reasons for our decadent underdevelopment. The love of one's country and its people must be seen in the way we carry out our bounden duty to one another. Our work ethic must be one of sincere dedication and service to our compatriots. Yet, there is a limit to what patriotism can do. It is not love of the country at all costs.

We are aware of what harm and disaster a morbid understanding of patriotism can cause. Excessive love of the self and even of the nations of one's birth cannot be less harmful. It can breed hostility and war. History is replete with wars among nations as a result of excessive patriotism. That is to say, patriotism to be useful must be exercised within the confines of reason and responsibility.

It does not empower anybody to occasion harm to others in the bid to make one's nation appear better. Every nation has its own respect and integrity. The abuse of the rights of the less mighty leads naturally to resistance and wars. The spiral of death and blood bath in several regions of the world today especially among warring nations are enough evidences of the volume of evil excessive patriotism can generate.

We cannot love our country and defend its integrity at the cost of other nations. Every nation has a right of existence and it is not at our behest and approval. The fundamental rights of nations and peoples to exist are inalienable. They are beyond the powers and authority of any state or nation to legitimize. Hence it is a given of God who designed all things in being.

And so people must exercise restraints in their morbid defence of their nation's rights-real or perceived. We must not try to denigrate others in order to exist better. Our desire for an enhanced national image and integrity do not permit us to tarnish the image and integrity of others. Others too have a right to love and defend their own nations within the bounds of law.

Therefore, all forms of national chauvinism and parochialism based on race and tribe, colour and language must be eschewed in the service of national and global peace. The part of greatness remains the freedom to let be that and those not one with us in the integrity of their own being making for what brings about social harmony, justice and peace in service of the common good.



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