Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Memory and Identity: Patriotism.

Patriotism is a word and a notion which is much overlooked by many today, yet it continues to be, in reality, a foundational element of society. How is this the case?

Patriotism flows out of the Fourth Commandment: honour your father and mother. We venerate our parents because for us they represent God. They have shared with God in giving us life, and the spiritual patrimony of our native land, which we receive, comes to us first through our parents. From this flows our sense of love and duty towards our native land. The native land is also the common good of all its citizens, in which everyone has a duty to serve and nurture that people's culture and traditions.

Today, we need to ask, have we seen the final end of the development of human society? For we have seen the rise of globalisation, in which many small nations have been absorbed into larger political structures. And we have seen huge cultural changes taking place within societies.

Catholic social doctrine speaks about "natural societies". This indicates that both the family and the nation have a particular bond with human nature. It is clear that every society's formation takes place in and through the family. It is also true that the nation, when understood as the cultural and historical identity of a particular society, is also a part of human reality. It is clear then, that today natural societies - the family and the nation - are overlooked and attacked by other social forces, even though we need them.

Nationalism is not a heatly response to this dynamic, for nationalism represents the recognition and pursuit of one's own nation alone, without regard for others.

Patriotism, on the other hand, is a love of one's own nation that recognises the equal value of other nations; it is a properly orderd social love.

(The above photo was taken as I gave Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, 2007.)

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