Patriot’s Side

Reviving and defining the concept of Patriotism

While speaking in Paris during the month of April in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt examined his thoughts on the meaning of “patriotism” and how he viewed that concept in an ever more connected world.

Even though he was beginning to develop a progressive ideology, he managed to define the importance of “patriotism” in a very straightforward way:

I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be… a good citizen of the world.

Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is a citizen of the world, is in very fact usually an exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in…

If a man can view his own country and all other countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and his mother.

However broad and deep a man’s sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land.

Now, this does not mean in the least that a man should not wish to do good outside of his native land. On the contrary, just as I think the man who loves his family is more apt to be a good neighbor than the man who does not, so I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strongly patriotic nation.

So globalism is nothing new; as we see Teddy Roosevelt recognize the nascent eruption of a “family of nations” at the advent of the 20th Century. Roosevelt addressed the importance of patriotism in a world context and was very direct in his clear understanding of the concept of “patriot” and “world citizen,” and the difference between the two.

People can have that understanding once more – IF we teach patriotism.

Originally published April 18, 2016

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