Nation and Patriotism

What really is a nation? There is no standard answer. You only have an idea of what constitutes a nation. But the idea varies depending on your demography, your geography, your language and culture and a million other factors that exist, and will continue to exist as long as humanity exists on this planet. My favorite author, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had written in his most political novel ever, Gora "The idea of the Nation is one of the most powerful anaesthetics that man has invented which is individual and spiritual, and is untainted by racialism or religious orthodoxy."

A nation is much greater than me or anyone else who reads this long boring monologue. A nation is a collective of consciences, of people who come together and unite against the ills of society; who unite to fight discrimination, who address grievances of their own and who move forward together while attempting to ensure that no one is left behind. A nation is much bigger than just a race, a culture or a language. We have nations based on religions. Why do they, then, fight amongst themselves? We have nations based on similar cultures, and yet they distinguish themselves from each other. Can a nation be based only on one idea? No, it has to be based on a plethora of ideas. A nation is a collective of ideas with a soul, and even if these ideas conflict, the tolerance to hear them out is what constitutes a nation truly.

What does patriotism really mean? Should it be about pride for one's country or its people? Or should it be pride in its institutions and office bearers as well? My kind of loyalty, as Mark Twain had aptly stated, lies towards my country, and not towards its institutions and office bearers. It may sound anarchist in nature, but the reason I quote this phrase is the fact that patriotism truly means that we should not be blind about faults that lie within our systems. Patriotism truly refers to viewing our selves with an objective eye, to be able to boldly criticise ourselves and find ways to correct ourselves to bring ourselves to the 'right path'. If we are truly patriotic towards our country, we should learn to be sympathetic towards our people. Every day farmers commit suicide, and every day we have people going hungry. Corruption is eating our democracy's foundation, and we have convergence of interests of the rich and the powerful happening at a whirlwind pace, when journalists are killed to suppress the voice of truth. And yet, many hold our tiny little paper/plastic flags and shout 'We're free', or that our patriotism comes to the fore only when India plays cricket. What kind of patriotism is that? Answer: The kind that is preached to the people so that they become blind to the matters of significance, that affect them directly, and yet are unaware of. That is an idea I cannot accept at all. Patriotism means to me the ability to speak out for all those who are unheard, for all those whose voices are crushed and need a vent. It means that we address, and not just try, the grievances of all those who have a problem with this country.


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