Patriotism, not nationalism

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While I was happy to see the Universe bring up patriotism in “Is Patriotism Alive at BYU?” in last week’s edition, the author, for the most part, confused the concept of patriotism with that of nationalism. Granted, he did mention political participation, but patriotism is so much more than that. Nationalism breeds this attachment to symbols of one’s own country, quite often without understanding what the symbols even represent. A common function of nationalism is to lull the population into blind acceptance of the actions of its government, especially with regard to foreign affairs.

This love of certain music, flags, ribbons, etc. is juxtaposed by true patriotism. Patriotism has little to do with symbols but an understanding of the ideals by which one’s country was founded or the ideals the people themselves hold as valuable. Do we understand the time period and struggle that created that flag? Do we understand what the Bill of Rights means? Are we ready to defend the precious liberties we have struggled to keep despite the tyranny of government for hundreds of years?

By my personal definition, the epitome of patriotism is a willingness to defy the actions of government when it acts in contrary to the principles of liberty and freedom, instead of going along to avoid trouble. If we can separate our dedication to the principles of these United States from the actions of our government and military, then I believe we can shape a better future by holding our government accountable.

Michael Melendez
Fullerton, California

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