Not sure how to define patriotism. Sure I could look it up in the dictionary/wikipedia but I looking for a definition more attuned to my senses.
Growing up in India we were fed a steady diet of patriotism which I would, at this point in my life, term xenophobia. I am of course referring to the toxic mix of the equation that every Indian knows by heart : Pakistan = Evil.
No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the issue, it was the patriotic duty of every Indian to passionately hate every Pakistani. Be it a debate on war, politics, cricket or mangoes, every kid and every adult knew that India is better than Pakistan. And I followed this version of patriotism fervently. Even now at the mature age of 39, I have an inner monologue going on with the Pakistani hating version of myself. Thankfully that idiotic part of myself has calmed down a bit especially after tasting some heavenly mangoes from Pakistan.
By late 80s, this passion to hate Pakistan had died down a bit amongst the citizens of India. Not sure why, but the politicians saw that their rabble rousing against Pakistan was not really getting them the power they wanted and so patriotism somehow morphed into an ugly sub-version called Nationalism especially Hindu Nationalism. This religious version of patriotism was simmering for sometime and had a great following in Maharashtra. The leaders of this movement were able to export it to the national stage (through poor management by the Congress party, I might add) during the Barbari Masjid episode. And suddenly, to be a true patriot, you had to align yourself to defination put forth by Hindu nationalist leaders which was always one sided and quite violent. I was stupid but not a moron. I firmly resisted this version of patriotism that was sweeping amongst my friends and family. And this left me a little disillusioned. I wanted to be identified an Indian but not as one that required me to align myself to a “certain” kind of Indian. And so life went on blissfully where I just kept silent whenever the subject of patriotism came up because I found out that my voice would easily be drowned out by patriotic zealots.
And now I am in Canada which I have adopted as my country. Here things are radically different than they are in my country of birth. Democracy is practised with a transparency that does not exist in India. There are numerous flaws in this version of democracy as well but atleast there are great ideas floating out there and there is rational discussions on those proposed changes. There is however an under current of intense loyalty towards the flag that is becoming more vocal with each passing year. This group insists that to be a loyal Canadian, you have to SHOW OFF your love for the country (a decidedly US version of patriotism). And the only way to do that is to wave the flag, take part in the activities during Canada day that every Canada loving individual is doing i.e. drinking beer and attend fireworks displays and making sure that you have a Canadian flag pin on your shirt. This kind of patriotism eludes me. I mean I love Canada but to put it on my sleeve so that everyone knows I love this land is beyond me.
Another problem, I have an affinity for Canada as much as I have for India. India was my past and Canada my future. Why in the world do some true blood Canadians insist on me forgetting about India because it’s a country ”I have forsaken”. I don’t understand why some people refuse to understand that a person can love two or more countries at the same time. Utter nonsense.
Here’s my version of what it means to be a loyal Canadian.
> As a Canadian I am committed to the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedom.
> As a Canadian I am committed to ensuring that I contribute to the Canadian economy.
> As a Canadian I am committed to helping fellow human beings (Canadians and non-Canadians).
> As a Canadian I am committed to opposing, peacefully, elected politicians and officials in power.
> As a Canadian I am committed to paying homage to fellow Canadians who have died making this a country worth dying for.
> As a Canadian I am committed to opposing the forces that want to disrupt our way of life.
> As a Canadian I am committed to caring for my brethren in Canada AND the world.
If this in anyway steps on other Canadians’ version of patriotism, then, thank god I live in a country where I can tell them, very politely, to fuck off.