Yesterday, I was looking for a quote that I remembered as coming from Mark Twain:
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it" Mark Twain
Strangely enough, this quote is not listed on twainquotes.com
I did find some other quotes, listed below the fold, but my search for this quote and the things I found got me thinking:
What is Patriotism?
Mark Twain also wrote this, which is appropriate for the discussions today:
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
I felt this quote should preface some of the other quotes regarding patriotism.
The definitions of patriotism throughout history illustrate the divides currently in place in our country.
It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism. ~J. Horace McFarland
Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own. ~Seneca
He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick
Patriotism is easy to understand in America - it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country. ~Calvin Coolidge
The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism. ~Earl Warren
These are definitions of patriotism that Bush and McCain would have us embrace. Frankly, quotes like these are a little hard to find. More common are quotes which reflect the and trivialization of the word "Patriotism"
Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them! ~Albert Einstein
Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons. ~Bertrand Russell
Patriotic societies seem to think that the way to educate school children in a democracy is to stage bigger and better flag-saluting. ~S.I. Hayakawa
What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang
Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill. ~Richard Aldington
Other great thinkers extol patriotism as something bigger that the traditional definition of patriotism as love of ones country- one that encompasses the global or even universal scope of responsibility:
I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world. ~Socrates
Patriotism knows neither latitude nor longitude. It is not climatic. ~E.A. Storrs
The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? ~Pablo Casals
Others have defined patriotism as evil, as the source of war and oppression:
You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. ~George Bernard Shaw
If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident. ~Montesquieu
The stench of the trail of Ego in our History. It is ego - ego, the fountain cry, origin, sole source of war. ~George Meredith, Beauchamp's Career
Patriotism, the virtue of the vicious. ~Oscar Wilde
Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched. ~Guy de Maupassant
Patriotism is many things to many people. My search turned up this incongruous quote from Laura Bush:
Mrs. Bush's Message to the Children of the U.S. Military
March 31, 2003
To the children of the United States Military,
President Bush and I are very proud of your family members who are serving in America's armed forces. At this difficult time, every American is especially grateful to your loved ones for protecting our country and defending freedom.
We know being apart from the people you love is not easy. Remember that people all over the country care about you and your family.
President Bush and I send you our very best wishes and our prayers for the safe return of the people you love.
With warmest thoughts,
This is the quote that made me want to write a diary on the subject. This appears on the White House Kids site. I find it incredibly offensive, especially in light of subsequent events.
It reminds me quite vividly of another famous quote regarding the word 'Patriotism', which also reflect the dire consequenses of misusing words:
Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
I could quote all day, but I think I'll let you have some quotes for your comments and views on the subject. However, I'll include one more quote which I find poignant and telling:
"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself"