I am not patriotic. I think Canada is, comparatively, an excellent country in which to live and work. But I don’t feel I owe anything to a region of the planet that is marked by abstract boundaries from other such regions, that is governed by a bunch of rich white people who don’t care about me or millions of others like (or unlike) me, and that is founded on the blood of many people of all sorts of races and creeds, but particularly the aborigines.
Patriotism actually irks me. It seems such a backward, outdated idea. Why can’t we get past it? I’m sure different people have different reasons to feel patriotic, but quite often my sense is that it’s just a team spirit mentality – no different than being on a sports team whose motto is, essentially, “we’re better than you.” People around the world are pretty much the same. People of every skin colour, every religion, every nationality can be nice and can be jerks; can be humanitarians and can be rapists. I’ve known Asians and Native Americans and East Indians and they all laugh and say ‘good morning’ and jerk off and have their crabby days (presumably not all at the same time). Now if none of those groups of people are any better or worse than the rest of us, how silly is it to think that a group separated by an imaginary line on a map is any better or worse?
The other reason patriotism bugs me is its association with war. I don’t like war. I am against war. War is hell. And whenever war pops up, people start waving flags around. I guess my logic is a little flawed with this criticism of patriotism – it’s like being against hats because I don’t like the heads they’re on. Except hats keep people’s heads warm – patriotism has no practical purpose that I can see.
To be patriotic is to have pride. Now, I have pride in certain things – I’m proud of the book I wrote, of some paintings and drawings I’ve done. (I’m also critical of these things but that’s beside the point.) But to have pride in your association with a geographical location, or a body of people of whom you actually know only the most minute percentage? That doesn’t make much sense to me. But I have patriotic friends. You know who you are. You have your reasons, I’m sure, which I assume make sense to you and maybe someday they’ll make sense to me. I’m not expecting everyone to have the same beliefs as I. If you’ve got a good reason to be patriotic, besides “because Canada ROCKS!”, I’ll respect that. But for the time being I just wanted you to know that even though my birth certificate and driver’s license say I’m on the same team as you, I won’t be waving the “where I was born is important” flag. I am proud to associate with you for reasons that have nothing to do with nationality. And you’ll find I can be just as much a friend to Americans (and presumably others, should I get to know them).
What is that saying that I like to quote all the time? “There can be no world peace while patriotism exists.”