The true meaning of patriotism

Don’t confuse patriotism, which creates a sense of responsibility, with nationalism, which can be a manifestation of arrogance.

YS Chan, Free Malaysia Today

In most third world countries, patriotism is defined as support for the government of the day. Instead of being debunked, the definition is perpetuated after changes of government.

It is also customary for the regime in power to whip up nationalistic sentiments because many less developed societies tend to mix up nationalism with patriotism.

Nationalism shows its ugly side when citizens of one country rejoice in the downfall of another.

While celebrating a win in sports is healthy nationalism, unsporting behaviour will tarnish the image of the country and its people.

Britain chose to pull out of the European Union because of nationalism, and the same sentiment may see Scotland voting for independence from the United Kingdom. Donald Trump is clearly a nationalist but he will be unpatriotic if his policies bring harm to the United States.

North Korea is famous for its huge military parades, designed to whip up nationalistic fervour and keep its citizens in check.

To commemorate important events, people around the world would raise national flags and sing national anthems.

Raising the Jalur Gemilang and belting out Negaraku would make Malaysians reverberate with pride, but such nationalistic ardour must be translated into positive action to be patriotic.

Parking indiscriminately to participate at such events and leaving the venue littered with garbage are anything but patriotic. So are uniformed officers practicing corruption.

If we continue to measure patriotism by the number of national flags we fly, we will remain a superficial nation. Our national flag is sacred and should be flown majestically on a flag pole, not used as an ornament.

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