I'm not a monster. I just think patriotism is backwards

You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.
– George Bernard Shaw

One of the many many many books I see on a daily basis is “How to be a Canadian.” My cynicism meter shot right up and the first thing I answered (yes, I talk to the books) is – “be born in Canada, or immigrate.” Of course the book isn’t how to become a citizen of Canada, but about Canadian culture. My problem is with Canadian stereotypes, in the same way I have problems with any cultural or country stereotypes. I don’t drink beer, I dislike hockey. I spend more time looking at American politics than I do Canadian. But I’m a still a Canadian. There are peace-loving, hippie Canadians, there are warmongering naziesque Canadians. There are nice Canadians, there are asshole Canadians. There are Canadians out there in third world countries who are healing the sick and feeding the hungry. There are also Canadians that blow things and people up in the name of religion or whathaveyou. There are good things and there are bad things about every individual who is by definition Canadian. I think identifying yourself with a group of people because you were born in the same country is silly, and outdated. The race to a peaceful future is not a team sport. Nobody wins by wearing matching jerseys and waving flags around. That serves to alienate everyone who isn’t wearing your jersey and waving your flag, and it brings out the worst kind of competitiveness – the global kind; the 1980’s America vs Russia kind. There are more positive, useful things to pride yourself in other than the flag you share with X million people whom you do not know. If you need to be proud of something – be proud of the good things* that you yourself do that make this world a better place; of the happiness you bring to your friends and family*; of healing the sick, teaching the young, bringing art and literature into the world, etc.

See how I turned that negative cynicism into something warm and mushy? I planned that.

* where applicable.

8 Replies to “I'm not a monster. I just think patriotism is backwards”

  1. I’m not exactly a cheerleader for national/ethnic/other-identity pride, per se, but I have to admit — I never felt more “Canadian” than when I left Canada and found myself surrounded by everything and everyone other than Canadian.

    And I think there is something to be said for the specific histories, contexts, systems and politics that nations are (ostensibly) composed of, some of which we share with the many people we don’t know. You can read national currents in arts and literature, for example, partly a result of sharing ideas over shared geography. It’s certainly not the only way to organize and theorize about the world, but it’s an interesting one.

  2. Yeah, but you’ll never dominate the world with that kind of attitude.

    Are there asshole Canadians, really? Are they all in Quebec?

  3. That was a pretty ironic post I have to admit.

    As Yvonne (not her real name) suggested, Canadians never truly become patriotic until they leave Canada. In the case of Canada or other well received countries (New Zealand off the top of my head) it is this stereotyping that actually helps one get along with other and be accepted as well as allowing you to get to know others who are ‘wearing the same jersey’ who immediately identify with you. I’ve made more friends and felt I was treated better because I was a Canadian.

    I agree that the flag waving jingoism of the cold war is best left in the past but I think I would disagree with the point that ‘nobody wins by wearing the same jersey’. I think ‘wearing the same jersey’ is good if you are willing to take the time to look past the jersey.

  4. I think we win when we all wear the same jockey shorts. Lord knows, anyone is welcome to look past mine.

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