Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UPDATING THE CONCEPT ON PATRIOTISM

The freedom brought by democracy after the 1990s by many was understood as anarchy and a clash of moral, ethical, national, and cultural values, which produced a confusing ideological hotchpotch unclear to this day. Since we live in the Balkans and division on different bases is our specialty, partly due to the complete non-evolution of human nature in general, which is in the eternal pursuit of belonging to the group, the greatest abuse takes place just above these divisions. Politicians, at the speed of light, have mastered the art of manipulating citizens to seize power and use it to further deepen these divisions. Thus, we have ended up living in our microcosms, timid, scared, and often only within the comfort of the status quo, so what if every day it erodes our well-being.

Author: Sefer Selimi Jr.

The freedom brought by democracy after the 1990s by many was understood as anarchy and a clash of moral, ethical, national, and cultural values, which produced a confusing ideological hotchpotch unclear to this day. Since we live in the Balkans and division on different bases is our specialty, partly due to the complete non-evolution of human nature in general, which is in the eternal pursuit of belonging to the group, the greatest abuse takes place just above these divisions. Politicians, at the speed of light, have mastered the art of manipulating citizens to seize power and use it to further deepen these divisions. Thus, we have ended up living in our microcosms, timid, scared, and often only within the comfort of the status quo, so what if every day it erodes our well-being.

Manipulation of national-patriotic feelings opens the road for types of politicians like Milosevic and Sheshelj, which resulted in bloody wars and severe consequences for the human lives. The chapter of the ethnic wars in the Balkans seems to have ended up but not the flirtation with the nationalism of the last century that is still strongly present in all countries.

Complete detachment from nationalism is not healthy (at least not yet) but it is extremely dangerous if it does not adapt to contemporary reality and the challenges that society faces. If nationalism is the corpus of feelings of love for the nation, patriotism is in fact the embodiment of those feelings into concrete deeds. Precisely, this lack of consistency between them results in nationalism based on populist folklore rather than concrete deeds useful to society, leaving room for mediocre politics and opportunistic politicians who are reluctant to misuse citizens’ feelings in order to seize and retain power. If we as a society do not update the concept of patriotism, we will continue to leave our welfare and perspective in the hands of incompetent people, who have the ability to manipulate the feelings of the masses while enjoying the privileges of power.

In this context, I think that the updating concept of patriotism should be based on 5 basic principles:

You can’t protect someone who is wrong just because he/she is “yours”.
– Vagabonds, criminals, thieves have no ethnic, religious or political background. We need to learn to tenaciously ask that the law is applied for everyone the same, even when the offender is ‘ours’. If we relativize, look between our fingers and try to justify someone just because he/she is ‘ours’ we will always end up being their hostage.

Separation from victimization.
– Discrimination, injustice, favoritism have been and will always be present but they cannot be used to justify ourselves for our inadequacies, lack of professionalism, or individual devotion. No one should take social status for granted and enjoy privileges only because has a certain party affiliation, ethnicity or religion. We need to build societies with healthy competition, where individual values will be at the center.

To love yours but to respect the foreign.
– The main defect of the past century’s nationalism lies in glorifying ‘your’ vice versa hatred of the ‘others’. This mentality was reflected in all other intergroup relationships and thus, it is easier to hate the other and to be locked in the shell that echoes your ‘greatness’ than to seek to improve defects through argumentative dialogue. Therefore, patriotism should open the way to accept criticism and foster reflection to improve ourselves first, then others. Hatred is the insuperable wall of human logic and sense.

To respect the past pragmatically – without myths and legends.
– Legends, myths, traditions and customs are a very important part of collective remembrance conveying human experience and wisdom from generation to generation, but we must not remain their hostage. Each event is a product of the circumstances and factors of the time, so they must be analyzed in the context of the time that happened in order to draw lessons for the present and the future. Myths and legends are built on a lack of facts while policies must be the product of in-depth analysis of facts, opportunities and risks. A patriotic politician does not speak for the glory of heroes but honors their sacrifice with integrity, responsibility, and dedication on the useful work for the society.

Patriotism must be measured in fair proportion with the concrete deeds for the good of society.
– Patriotism is not abstract matter that is measured by declarative words but is concrete action and everyday individual behavior.

Patriotism is to take care of cleanliness even outside your own backyard; to do the right thing even when no one is watching you; to be a doctor and not steal from patients; to be an added value for the party rather than the party being the only value you have; to denounce the one who damages public property; to pay your taxes and to look for accounts where and how your money is spent; to love your city / village but not to be a localist; to be a good teacher; to undertake and support community-based initiatives for the good of the community; support local businesses; and so on.

Patriotism is in direct proportion to the concrete daily deeds with which we help our community.

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