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Patriotism, from one Canadian’s perspective

Despite the fact that the word “patriot” is included in the third line of our national anthem, the idea of “patriotism” really isn’t – at least, not in my experience – a significant part of our dialogue or identity as Canadians.

Don’t get me wrong…

I am very happy that I am Canadian, as are, I suspect, most of my fellow citizens.

I feel a connection to this land and its people – after all, it’s where I was born and, apart from a few short-lived vacations beyond its borders, all I’ve ever known.

I am certainly grateful for what my country has to offer its residents.

I think that we are on the right track, at least most of the time, in terms of how we as a nation believe (and legislate) that people should be treated.

But I just don’t “get” patriotism.

To me, the concept of patriotism actually feels awkward and foreign and, truth be told, even a little frightening in its rah, rah, “greatest nation in the world” fervor.

I am glad to be Canadian, certainly, for the reasons listed above and more. Yet the sight of our flag and the sound of our anthem, while comforting in their familiarity, do not move me to tears or inspire in me a sense of pride or superiority.

Should I really be proud that I happened to be born on one particular portion of this earth rather than another, as if I had any control over the matter? Should I take credit for living in a country whose national legislation and policies benefit my life, yet which I had no hand in establishing or upholding? (By the same token, should I take the blame for the dark blemishes in this country’s history, despite the fact that I played no part in these events?)

Perhaps it’s just semantics – six of one, half-a-dozen of the other – but for me, attaching the label of “patriotism” to either my appreciation for or my actions within this country just doesn’t fit.

Written for GBE 2: Blog On
WEEK #76 (10-28-12 to 11-3-12): Patriotism

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Jo Heroux
    November 3, 2012

    Many people share your definition and feelings of patriotism, I don’t. I feel it is a deep feeling of community and a certain feeling of pride in doing my small part in my small dot of this country to make it a little better than it was before me. I feel one of many, not one in many, who work to make my country stronger and more effective than it was. Restoring our economic standing in the world is important to me and helping to elect the right people to achieve that, my job. Yep I am patriotic and I do tear up when the national anthem is played and I remember the souls who have been lost to protect our freedoms when I hear those words. I stand erect, hand over heart and I sing (not my strong point) along with the crowd, loudly and proudly because it is MY national anthem.

    But that’s how I am 100% or I’m out. Not much in between in my life.
    Jo Heroux recently posted… PATRIOTISMMy Profile

  • Jenn November 3, 2012

    I think Patriotism means different things to different people, for us here in America and for people in Canada or anywhere in the world, really. I worked with a girl from Toronto who married a guy here in the states and she was very proud to be from Canada. She knew her Canadian history and she’d share it with us– I learned so much. (She inspired me to get going on my Canadian genealogy). She also very clearly missed her home.
    Conversely, I had cousins from Canada who thought very much like you did when it came to patriotism. So I guess it takes all kinds.
    We are definitely eclectic bunch here in the states, when it comes to the views we have on Patriotism…but in my opinion– it is all good.

    Cheers, Jenn.
    Jenn recently posted… DerailedMy Profile

  • Cheryl November 3, 2012

    Your post made me think back to the last Olympics when someone on Facebook made a comment about not caring who won the medals and stating that they cheered for all athletes. They said they thought people shouldn’t be so “My country” oriented. I thought that was a strange attitude too because, like it or not, that’s what the Olympics is about … the athletes from MY country beating YOUR country.

    For any person anywhere on earth to say they have no patriotism to their country is sad for me to hear. I’m very patriotic and my eyes tear up when the flag is flown and the anthem is sung. My son, who is in the military and would DIE for this country, is very patriotic. He would be very sad (although more likely angry) at your attitude.

    I have to admit that I don’t understand your non-feelings for our country. I know you’re obsessed with American politics and I often wonder if you don’t wish you were American. I know other people who think that way. That’s fine if you do but I’d rather you admit to it than just say you have blah feelings about Canada.

    Like I said, mostly, attitudes like yours make me feel sad.

    • Laurel Regan
      November 4, 2012

      How anyone could make the leap from me saying, “I am very happy that I am Canadian” to questioning whether I might actually wish I was American is baffling.

      If you actually believe that I have blah or “non-feelings” for Canada, may I suggest that you re-read my words with a little more care. And may I also strongly request that you refrain from making assumptions or jumping to conclusions about my attitudes or desires based on your own preconceived notions or expectations.

      Your attitude is disappointing, Cheryl.
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Patriotism, from one Canadian’s perspectiveMy Profile

      • Cheryl November 4, 2012

        I guess what clicked with me the first time I read it was when you said that you’re happy to be Canadian but not proud to be Canadian. That was the part that made me sad, because I AM proud to be Canadian.

        I did not feel I was making assumptions or jumping to conclusions but I apologize if that was what you took from what I said. I’ll be more careful what I say in future.

        • Laurel Regan
          November 6, 2012

          I don’t think my attitude is all that different from anyone else’s, really – I’m just more hung up on semantics and using what I perceive to be the proper word, and “pride” doesn’t ring true for me in this case. For example, I’m not “proud” to be a woman, or white, or short, or anything else over which I had no choice – to me, being proud of such things would say that I think they’re better than the alternative. But that doesn’t mean that I’m ashamed of being any of those things, or that I want to be anything different, either! I just AM a short, white, Canadian woman. Hope that makes some sense. 🙂
          Laurel Regan recently posted… My first act in office?My Profile

  • Julia
    November 4, 2012

    What a fine, honest post. The trouble with the word patriot is that it means different things to different people. To some, it represents a certain set of actions and symbols. If you don’t identify with these particular acts or symbols, sadly, many are quick to judge you as unpatriotic.

    Patriotism is not symbols or actions. It’s love for the country one comes from. As the Russians say, “One’s motherland is always best.” I disagree with Cheryl. You clearly sound like someone who loves her country, and I’m willing to bet a nickel you appreciate the people in the Canadian armed services who are willing to lay down their lives in defense of their country, as much as she does. You’re describing something beyond the motions we go through to express our appreciation. Love of country can mean looking hard at it, the good and the bad. That’s the way a country grows. That’s the way people grow. Best wishes —

  • Lorinda J. Taylor November 4, 2012

    Well, I’ll jump in with both feet and probably get in trouble, but that’s part of my reason for blogging! I agree totally with your statements, Dawn! You’re not talking about normal, sensible patriotism where you support, criticize, and try to improve the form of government under which you live – you’re describing jingoism, that rah-rah fervor that my nations is the only one in the world that’s valuable and to hell to everybody else. Dictionary.com defines it as “bellicose chauvinism.” Anybody who has read my Future History post will know that by the 28th century nations have disappeared and people think of themselves only as Earthers. We are all the same species, so I’m always uncomfortable when the body counts of war or catastrophe stress how many Americans are killed, and, oh, yes, maybe we might deign to mention the also-rans – 20 Afghans or Japanese or Canadians also died, but so what? They aren’t Americans! Aren’t they human beings? Don’t they suffer like any other human being? Shouldn’t they be accorded the same respect in death? We are all the same species! We are humans first, and Americans or Canadians or Afghans or Brazilians or South Africans second.
    Lorinda J. Taylor recently posted… I’ve Been Nominated for The Next Best Thing Award!My Profile

  • Beth November 4, 2012

    You and I definitely see patriotism is much the same way. I’m happy and comfortable to be an American, but “patriotic”? Not so much.
    Beth recently posted… Yankee Doodle DandyMy Profile

  • a.eye November 4, 2012

    I’m comfortable with where I am from. I don’t think that patriotism in the normal sense fits me. I cheer for all nations to benefit. The way many people feel about their countries reminds me of a line from some Chris Rock movie where he is president (or some other politician). In it he repeats, “God bless America. And no place else!” That is what I feel many people meaning when they say they are patriotic. That their place is the best and nothing else matters. I like Lorinda’s comment that we are all Earthlings.
    a.eye recently posted… I’ve been trained too wellMy Profile

  • Brenda November 4, 2012

    can you help me become Canadian???:0)

  • Brenda November 4, 2012

    (psssssssssst) i have 3 Canadian grandchildren…sooOOOoo
    huh???huhuh???canipleeeeeeeze become Canadian??:0)
    Brenda recently posted… Patriotic NatureMy Profile

  • Tara Adams
    November 5, 2012

    I got around a lot of these issues by posting my response as fiction, Dawn, but I totally know what you mean and I find that many other posters felt the same. I have to re-think patriotism and re-work it in my mind in order to try and reclaim what I think the essence of it is supposed to be. I have grown up hearing the word used to justify all sorts of stupidity, wrong-headedness and cruelty. I think loving one’s own is a good thing, but loving everyone as one’s own is better yet. Yours is an excellent post.
    Tara Adams recently posted… A Rant About The Politics of SchoolMy Profile

  • Tim November 5, 2012

    Very nicely put, Dawn. I had a difficult time with this topic. It seems to mean so many different things to different people, and when we can’t agree on a definition, the continued use reduces the term to meaningless jargon. Thanks for posting this.


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