-The Strength of Patriotism-
In my view, patriotism is a form of charity. It is also a deep sense of responsibility towards one’s society, community and country. Being charitable and having a sense of personal responsibility carries with it several virtues. These include: a high level of selflessness, openness to others who are different, empathy towards others, sensitivity to one’s environment, effort at giving one’s best, desire to get problems solved, humility, honesty to one’s self and others, and ability to be objective and to say the truth.
The decision to return home after several years of being away already speaks to the fact that there may likely exist a feeling of patriotism towards one’s homeland. Though it could be argued that, the intention for the return may indeed be far from patriotic sentiments. It may range from hardship and failure, to noble intents such as, a real desire to come home and make Nigeria a better place through positive contribution.
Indeed, our country cries out loud for a real patriotic spirit from its citizens. This may be exemplified by persons who have had the opportunity of “being away” and have seen how things are better done in other places. Many politicians and leaders in various fields of life who are today at the helms of affairs and are in influential positions have actually studied and/or lived and worked in Europe, USA and other developed areas of the world. These persons have experienced some kind of organized society where things are better managed and where systems/processes work.
A mere visit to a developed country leaves one lamenting over the state of affairs in our beloved country Nigeria. However, it is one thing to lament and quite another to do something about it. But how does one even begin to talk about patriotism when the corruption industry has taken over our mentality and society? This is a huge obstacle to having a patriotic spirit.
However, there are arguments against patriotism. George Bernard Shaw said, “You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.” This sounds like having a patriotic spirit (to an extreme level) brings with it some problems. Even at that, Nigeria cries out for a basic patriotic spirit in its citizens such that they cultivate a strong sense of “Being Nigerian”.
With national celebrations such as Independence Day, Democracy Day, and Workers’ Day, it is hoped that the desire for National unity and integration gradually surpasses those of ethnic and sectarian interests. But of course, having national celebrations may not necessarily solve problems. A lot more could be done – story for another day.
As already mentioned, positive spirit of patriotism can be exemplified by those who have lived outside the country for a while. They would have experienced for example that no part of the world can truly replace “home” despite the wealth and comfort one may experience abroad. The strong sense which Americans have of “being American” is another example to emulate. These can be part of the wealth and lessons that Nigerians returning from the diaspora bring with them back home. Mark Twain stated: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it”.
Isn’t it interesting that a Nigerian who eventually becomes a member of the United States Security force is expected to renounce her/his citizenship with the country of origin and indeed become who s/he is meant to be – a full ally and patriotic citizen of the United States of America. This portrays the value attached to patriotism.
The essence of being patriotic is not an end in itself. It can be directed towards passionately using one’s acquired knowledge and skills to fulfill one’s obligations to one’s country. G. Edward Griffin put it straight when he said, “To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism” and Ron Paul supports this by stating that “Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong”. Thus the essence of cherishing one’s country is to help correct ills rather than contribute to it as an individual.
A child who returns to his/her home only to drain it of its remaining resources will certainly not be applauded. So too Nigerians who return home from the diaspora can show patriotism by contributing their wealth of knowledge and expertise for the betterment of all Nigerians rather than connive with leaders, civil servants and politicians to siphon the economy.
- Linda Ellah