I had to skim through plethora of dictionary definitions of this word that could at least remotely resonate with our modern-day understanding of it. In our swiftly progressing nation, our ideologies as well as perception of some core aspects are transforming rapidly. The way we consider and define concepts like patriotism, nationality, freedom of speech and expression – has come down to shockingly narrow state.
Patriotism today just comes down to unity as a country on cricket matches, plus three national festivals celebrated with nationwide zeal. Apart from that, there isn’t much that I can gather to label as patriotism.
Nationalism has been narrowed down to singing national anthem, and being steadfast obedient to the governments we elect.
Freedom of speech and expression is day-by-day going down the drain. Intolerance is soaring high and reaching alarming levels. An air of suspicion and insecurity reigns. One never can predict what he/she might do or say might end up offending another person or escalate to a tumultuous situation.
Everyone has their own versions of these three concepts, and seek to establish the superiority of their own beliefs. And amidst all of this, we have forgotten the truest essence of what it means to be a patriot.
I recently read about the upcoming book ‘Small Acts of Freedom’, by Gurmehar Kaur; one of the most inspiring women I know. Her book narrates the tale of a young Gurmehar who tries to come to terms with the early loss of her valorous father who was martyred during the Kargil war and her journey wherein she unearths true meanings of war, patriotism, and loss.
This striked a chord deep within me. And there’s something relevant that I realised and contemplated upon.
True passion for the nation and the supreme sense of patriotism are embossed in the hearts and souls of our warriors guarding our country’s borders. If anyone knows the true meaning and value of nationhood, it is those soldiers who breathe laboriously in icy cold glacier terrains and skin scprching desert winds, just to ensure that their fellow countrymen enjoy a peaceful sleep. It is them who adhere to the spirit of patriotism selflessly, and they more than willingly give up their life on earth for the sake of their beloved nation. For the brave men and women whose love for nation exceeds their attachments with their loved ones, are the worthiest citizens of the country.
Thus, only when we break our bubble notions of Patriotism and Nationalism; will we understand that these fundamental concepts encompass much greater values and sacrifices than mere chanting of national anthem, celebration of national festivals and keeping each other’s tongues under surveillance!
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