Patriotism is defined as the ideology of attachment to a homeland. But can such a simple statement describe such a huge part of our lives? Let’s break it down a bit more.
If you would indulge me for a moment, clear your head and focus on the mental activity I’m about to propose. Each of the following sentences will change your frame of mind if only for a couple of seconds.
Ok. Imagine that tomorrow you lost your entire identity to the world.
To yourself, nothing had changed, but to the world…
You live nowhere.
You were born nowhere.
You are a citizen of no place.
Your rights are non-existent.
What are you doing right now? What would be different about your situation?
Okay, now for some questions.
Would you fight to get it all back? How far would you go? And what if you couldn’t get it all back? What if the you that you were is no longer an option? Would you become a citizen again? Would you make a home for yourself - one that you chose, instead of the one that was chosen for you? And if you did, how much would you protect that new citizenship? How much would you cherish that home?
Most of us never get to know that kind of love of homeland. Not the homeland you’re born to, but the one your heart ached for. The place in your heart that was a goal so close to being achieved, until it finally was real. That is the patriotism of an immigrant - it is beautiful, it is passionate and it is fierce.
Patriotism comes in a variety of forms and from a variety of backgrounds. And yet, so many threatened by the assortment of people that comprise that homeland. Is our patriotism so frail that we can’t withstand a bit of simple diversity? For some of us, does attachment to one’s homeland mean detachment from the people who make up that homeland?
Oftentimes, today, patriotism is defined by the person on the soap box. That definition is often subjective and is used to quickly eliminate anyone who isn’t ‘our people’. Perhaps, to an extent, patriotism is slightly ephemeral and tricky to completely catch in one definition. But, if at its basis, it means the ideology of attachment to a homeland, then does this definition not include all who consider America home and have a pride for their home?
Turning a strong and beautiful word like patriot into an elite way of filtering out those who weren’t born to the same place and privileges we were is weak and ugly. We should use words like patriot to lift each other up - even if we are different. Especially if we are different.