Patriotism

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Patriotism means love or devotion to one's country or homeland.

The word patriot comes from Latin; the root is the same as that of "father": pater.

The Roman poet Horace wrote "Dulce et decorum est pro Patria mori", which means "It is sweet and seemly to die for one's country."[1]

Mark Twain said, "In the beginning, the Patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot."

Later, American satirist Ambrose Bierce would write "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first."[2]

Later still, World War I British infantryman and poet Wilfred Owen would mock Horace's words by describing a soldier dying a particularly gory death on the battlefield, and saying "My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori."[3]

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Conflicts With Pacifism

In rare cases patriotism has been a source of conflict for Christians in wartime. While their nation may call on them to do their patriotic duty, many Western pacifists believe that New Testament advocates nonviolence.

Many western conservative Christians feel that patriotism does not conflict with Christianity as in their view their countries' political systems are based upon Christian principles. However, this argument is dubious. With the possible exception of Vatican City, no nation can truly be labelled "Christian", and given that people of other religious dispositions are allowed to vote - and these are numerous - it is unreasonable to expect a "Christian" outcome.

References

  1. Horace, Odes (iii 2.13)
  2. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
  3. Wilfred Owen, Dulce Et Decorum Est

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