Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Consider This - Nationalism versus Patriotism

Consider This - Patriotism and Nationalism

It has been two weeks since the mid-term elections, and the country is still going through recounts and validations for some very close races. Even this far removed from that day, and the rallies prior to the polling, the nation remains divided - and once again it is all about what Trump proclaimed and continues to espouse even after November 6th.

"Make America Great Again" .. "America First" .. Nationalism versus Patriotism.

On the surface, when someone says they are a Nationalist, others may not think much of that - instead believing that being patriotic to one's country means putting that nation first. Much like rooting for their favorite sporting team over all the others in that league. Even as bad as the Eagles have played this year, Philadelphia fans will still recall fondly how well their team did last year, beating New England and bringing home the first ever Super Bowl Championship for the city. That is a centric-styled viewpoint, concentrating on the home team, the favorites, over anyone else. Sure, the players for New Orleans are nice guys and all, but Our Eagles are the best.

This is similar to how most people view "Nationalism" when they hear the term.

A Patriot is someone who likes their country best, has pride in the nation, but understands the larger concept of global relations and society, and how England, or Germany, or even Russia, isn't that bad a place either. They need help? Sure, we can help out some. Going back to the sports analogy, one views their team best, but doesn't see anything really wrong with another team. The Seahawks are great, too, even though I prefer the Eagles. Sure, Dallas isn't my favorite, but I'd still cheer for them over the Redskins.. or vice versa.

Consider this...

First, we need to look at the accepted definitions of these two words - Nationalism and Patriotism. From the Miriam-Webster website:

NATIONALISM: (origin dates back to late 1700s)
1. loyalty and devotion to a nation
especially : a sense of national consciousness (see CONSCIOUSNESS sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups
Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.
2. a nationalist movement or government
opposing nationalisms

PATRIOTISM: (origin dates back to the 1600s)
1. love for or devotion to one's country

Again, on the surface, these look similar enough that at a glance, they should be interchangeable in usage. After all, the original use of Nationalism in the writings at the time of the American Revolution were synonymous with Patriotism. However, as time has passed, there is an underlying difference of a grand magnitude which needs to be defined further as it relates to Nationalism versus Patriotism.

Posed to the internet on the Quora website was the question, "What is the difference, if any, between Nationalism and Patriotism?" A portion of the answer highlights these two concepts:

The late American journalist Sidney J Harris defines the difference rather well:

“The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war.”

Nationalism stresses unity based on a cultural background, including language and heritage. Patriotism, rooted in the love for a nation, emphasizes values and beliefs.

Patriotism, I think, predates the concept of nationhood. It's about the land and the people you live with and emotionally and intellectually identify with.

Since the rise of Fascism and Socialism/Communism in the last century, the divergence between Patriotism and Nationalism certainly widened to become nearly polar opposites. As Harris stated, a patriot is proud of what their country does, where a nationalist is proud of their country with a zealous abandon. By this concept, people were certainly less patriotic during the 1960's and 70's at the height of the Vietnam conflict, as many were not proud of what the nation was doing at that time. But, while there were dissenting opinions about underlying reasons for the Middle East conflicts at the start of this century, the nation was feeling more patriotic because the actions were at least a retaliation for the attacks on September 11th.

Another point of view to consider in all of this is our allied nations around the world. Right now, the ire from loyal Trump supporters is aimed at France, since the verbal sparring between Macron and Trump has raised the hackles on both sides. While many may dismiss the French President as just another disappointing foreign politician, it must be understood that the countries of Europe dealt with Nationalism in a very harsh period of time - the early to mid-part of the 20th century, specifically from the end of the First World War, through the Depression, and against Nazi Germany through World War II. Hitler has been described in countless history books and articles as a megalomaniac and narcissist.

So, when Trump starts acting out and talking or tweeting without consideration of other people and nations, our allies remember the last time someone spoke up like this.
Nationalism is not Patriotism .. not anymore. Certainly, be proud of the country - but we cannot forget where we came from, how we got here, and who our allies are. Some may say Trump's Nationalism holds our nation dear, but does not disregard others; and yet, almost every other tweet or speech emits an aura of contempt for others and how he can do no wrong. Everyone else is against us, we have to defend our borders.

Might as well take down that tablet the Statue of Liberty holds, because Trump is closing up shop and doesn't want to allow "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Consider This - V for Values

Veterans Day. Originally a day of remembrance, the celebration of the Armistice - the end of the "War to end all wars" one hundred years ago. Of course, that wasn't the "Last War" then, with another global conflict less than three decades later, and many others to follow from that point. But still a day, every year, where those of us who've laid our lives on the line are celebrated for our Honor, courage, and commitment.

Where Memorial Day honors the fallen - those who gave the ultimate sacrifice - Veterans Day is about those who served and survived. In more recent years, it has been expanded to include those still serving, not only in the military, but emergency services and first responders. We still remember the fallen, give respect to the living, honoring the freedom we have because of the brave men and women who serve.

Around the world, many countries use this time to celebrate their uniformed heroes, honor those who were lost. Whether it's on the original Armistice Day, or another time, soldiers, sailors, and other brave souls are shown respect for their service, just as we do on Veterans Day.

The French still call it "Armistice Day" and it is a national holiday which often brings international leaders in a celebration of unity, a remembrance of the alliances which stood against their enemies during the global conflicts of the last century. It is not a time for parades, nor of pomp and circumstance, but rather a somber reflection of the solidarity of nations. Leaders of nations come together to meet, walk together in unity, speak together of Peace. It is not a time for posturing, making the day about a single country, or single person.

Consider this:

Sacrifice. Veterans Day may be intended here to honor the living who have survived their services in the military, show respect for those who still put their lives on the line at home and abroad, but it is also a day to remember the sacrifices made before, and put others before ourselves. Commitment to the future, improving relations between all nations so the conflicts of the past remain in the past, and a unification of people throughout the world. Greater understanding between the countries and their citizens, across the ethnic, political, and religious divides, and a shared compassion that transcends their differences.

Even the leaders of nations need to make sacrifices as they represent their people while abroad. We, the People, need to be proud of what our nation does, and how our nation is represented. This feeling is what unites the citizens, promotes the advancements of society as a whole.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Consider This

 ...a weekly opinion post discussing various topics of interest. Whether it's a personal interest, anecdote, or a commentary on another op-ed published by other media sites, I intend "Consider This" to be another opinion to be considered. 

            In less than two decades, our country has seen a major attack on the mainland by external, terrorist agents. Conflicts, natural disasters, recessions, recovery, and elections. We have seen this happen on our televisions, heard it on the radio, and shared it on our computers and smart phones. The country elected its first African American President, and nearly half the country call Barack Obama the best President in their lifetimes (according to a Pew Research report earlier this year).
            While voter turnout has not been higher than half of the eligible voters in the country, at least since the early 1900s, even during a presidential election year, the 2018 midterm elections are the first which have approached that level or participation since the 1966 midterms - 49 percent of the population then, and again this year. Over 100 million voters turned out to cast ballots, many braving the elements in order to perform that civic duty. Outside of a presidential election year, this is the highest number of participants, ever, and even matches some of the presidential campaign years.
            With this election, a message was sent. More women ran for - and were voted into - offices at all levels, especially at the state and national levels. Exit polls show a 44 percent approval rating for the current administration, with 55 percent firmly disapproving of the job President Trump is doing. And the results of the election reflect that disapproval of not only the Executive Branch, but the Republican Party is also put on notice. The Democrats took over the House of Representatives, claiming 29 seats in Congress, putting them back in the majority by 24 members over the GOP. The Senate remains in the hands of the Republicans, however, as they gain 2 seats in the other branch of the Legislature.
            At the state level, the Democrats gained 7 governors' seats, and the Republicans lost 6 so far - there are still some states which are going through counts and recounts to confirm the winner. Narrowing down to the local level here, the one election which might still be in contention is between incumbent State Senator Tomlinson and Tina Davis. Only 100 votes separate the two, and while many - including Tomlinson - are declaring the win, a final tally is still in the works at the county seat, along with absentee and provisional ballots which have yet to be tallied.
Consider This:

            After the 2016 election, the GOP had control of all three branches of the federal government, and the Democratic Party spent the next two years trying to get the power back. #TurnItBlue was the popular hashtag on social media, and with the results after this week's election, the tide is turning. The country is still divided, still dealing with the violence and disputes across the aisle and across the nation, but this turn out, and the results, mean the People are waking up. Change is gradual when it comes to politics and the government, and it will always fluctuate with the ebb and flow of the People and the popular trends of the time.
            Overall, there is a gradual, progressive attitude permeating the People, and is the foundation of the #TurnItBlue movement taking root. Just as the Tea Party Movement pushed for a return to the foundations the country was created with, the progressive ideals brought to light with the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, and the apparent mobilization of the next generation of citizens - Millennials, Gen X/Y, and whatever other monikers they go by - is certainly a contributor to the voter turn-out this year. If this trend is any indication, the next two years - as well as the next presidential election - are going to be very interesting.

The End of a Chapter

  I sit here watching, waiting for her next breath. She sleeps more, her breathing slows, but there are still those moments of clarity where...