When confronted with the question, “How can I help preserve patriotism?”, I honestly draw a blank. It is not because I can’t help preserve patriotism, it’s just something that should come naturally. Patriotism is defined as a devotion to one’s country. I was fortunate enough to be brought up with the knowledge that it is good to have your own opinion, but that resulted in a direct love for the country for me. Some people, however, have not been as lucky.
The roots of the problem reach back to the time in American history when the emancipation of women and urban mobility caused the home to give up much of it’s control over the morals and ideals of the children. The unhappy recipients of this misplaced moral responsibility were, of course, the schools. Some educators think that by teaching the children that it is good, right, and patriotic to place the interests of Americans, who are only six per cent of the world’s peoples and better off in material welfare than all the others, above the interests of humankind in general, is dangerous. But how can patriotic devotion to the interests of one country generate denial of the interests of humankind in general? It can’t. And all too many people in this country suffer from frustration and despair, having been deprived of the knowledge that patriotism is rational, logical, and psychologically necessary. But if satisfaction of basic human needs is not desirable enough to engage the American people, there is much more to be gained from patriotism.
National loyalty is, in a sense, an invaluable “social security system, which, in return for active interest and allegiance, provides positive benefits to the investor. A nation can also furnish the benefits of public education and of equal protection of the law with the support of the people. Such advantages cannot be provided unless they are based upon the common interest, and belief in the common good, of the people. This is what patriotism is. Without the confident support of the people, public education becomes private indoctrination, and the protection of the law becomes autocratic control. So to the question “How can I preserve patriotism?”, I would have to say that the best way for everyone to answer is that I will teach my children to become active with the needs of the country.
That they need to voice their opinion and do everything they can to make it be heard. They need to make decisions and consider what it will do to other people. They need to feel a sense of pride when they see an American flag. And they need to respect everyone who has fought or is still fighting to protect our country because they are protecting the people as well. Patriotism is more than flag- waving and fireworks. It is how we respond to public issues. If we ask only, “What is in this proposal for me? What do I get out of it?” – we are not patriotic and we are not very good citizens. But if we ask, “Is this right? Is it good for the American people? Would it preserve and strengthen our freedom?” – we deserve to stand in the company of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Patriotism is trying always to give more to the nation than we receive. It is selfless service.