There are some similarities and some extreme differences between nationalism and patriotism. Both have a great deal of pride in their country. You would also think both a nationalist and a patriot would be willing to serve their country if called to do so. There are shared ideals, let’s say that. However, the manner in which they are expressed is vastly different.
I consider myself to be a patriot and proud to be one. I lean toward patriotism because while patriotism fundamentally means affection for one’s country, and willingness to defend it, nationalism by definition is a more extreme allegiance to one’s country above all else. Nationalism practices the supreme authority of the government and has allegiance to the government. Whereas patriotism serves the country and has a devotion to a way of life for that country, but in no way wants to push that way of life on others.
With nationalism, there is a strong desire for others to take on the way of life of the nation where the loyalty lies. However, nationalism serves a huge purpose during wartime. It serves to unite people behind a cause. Nationalism is a rally cry to bring people together for a common goal. This can also be a negative when it brings people together against others in a people against other people type of campaign. This was the rally cry of Hitler which was central to his war effort invading country after country in Europe and forcing Jewish people into concentration camps along the way.
Patriotism is a love for country and a prayer that, in John Dwyer’s words, “rather than God bless my country, my country will be a blessing to God.” Research also states that nationalism focuses on the state and patriotism focuses on the people.
It is better to love our country, keeping in mind that democratic ideals are the most important. The term ‘national identity’ is difficult to define–it can mean a religious identity, an ethnic identity or even an ideological identity. The main shortcoming of nationalism lies in the fact that it can blind people. Love for one’s country is imperative and necessary, but if this love becomes more important than Constitutional values or democratic ideals, it is misplaced.
As Americans, we are faced with many choices for the future. We also have much responsibility. We are connected to others around the globe both by the internet, socially, economically, and politically. Now is the time we have to learn to work for our nation’s greater good, while at the same time be able to work with others across the globe.
Patriotism and nationalism are two very different things. We love our country, and that is healthy. We must use that love to work to make our country better and help our children to grow up in a place where they can be educated to do even more. If our nation is to stay on top of the world stage, we have to keep our industries moving and our crops growing. We have to be inventing and developing again. Our kids need to be able to compete with anyone in the world in math and science. We can develop a true sense of pride in our nation when we are running with our flag toward our goals and living in peace. Let’s run that race together.
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