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And we must all recognize the force of their arguments. Patriotism often functions as a collective selfishness, more disastrous by far than individual selfishness. It easily degenerates into chauvinism, or, as we call it, jingoism, inspiring men with the lust of conquest, provoking jealousy and hatred of other nations, impeding the unification of mankind. If it were not for patriotism, it would be impossible to get the peoples to go to war with one another. And when we see the suffering and the ruin that war has brought to man, we may well ask if the value of patriotism can counterbalance this harm.
Even when patriotism is not truculent it isspeaking in nationalistic terms-self-centered. It tends to ignore the achievements, to dislike the manners and morals of other peoples. It thinks of them as “foreigners," that is, as being essentially different from us, and prefers to believe that everything we do is better than what they do, that every opinion we hold is truer than theirs. Thus it tends to be provincial, to erect barriers that impede the free exchange of ideas and ideals, and to deprive each nation, to some extent, of what the other nations could contribute to its development.
When patriotism goes even farther in this direction and becomes "spread-eagleism," it is insufferable. The boastful American, bragging endlessly of his country's prosperity and power, curling his lips patronizingly at the lower buildings or slower trains or less comfortable hotels of some foreign land, and making it plain that he will be thankful to get back to “God's own country," brings us into serious disrepute. As a matter of fact, while our civilization is in some respects superior to that of most other countries, it is in other respects inferior; we have much to learn as well as much to teach. And the complacent self-satisfaction of the unmannerly tourist is one of the developments of our national life of which) we have least reason to be proud.
Even worse is the bigotry that, parading under the cloak of patriotism, seeks to stamp out all criticism of our contemporary institutions or of the policies of the party in power, on the ground that such criticism is “unpatriotic.” ) During a time of war this intolerance of minority opinions is less inexcusable; the successful prosecution of the war may require a temporary willingness to submerge differences and unite on the policy that approves itself to the majority. But even then, the suppression of criticism is highly dangerous. Administrations commit serious blunders for the lack of the light that such criticism might have shed. And since even a democracy may be led into an unrighteous or inexpedient war, the right to discuss the whole matter with perfect freedom is of the utmost importance. It takes courage to maintain unpopular opinions, it takes individuality to think up new ideas; such courage and individuality are among our best assets, and should be encouraged rather than repressed. We are far too apt to swing with the tide, to be carried off our feet by a wave of popular feeling, or to stick in the rut of unthinking habit. Men who differ from the majority by no means always do so from selfish or traitorous motives; on the contrary, they may be actuated by ideals far higher than those of their persecutors.
Mr. Gilbert Chesterton recently wrote, “I have passed the great part of my life in criticizing and condemning the existing rulers and institutions of my country: I think it is infinitely the most patriotic thing that a man can do." The real anti-patriots
are not the critics and would-be reformers of our institutions, not those who hold unpopular views or oppose contemporary policies, but rather the illmannered and truculent, who give us a bad name among neighboring peoples or inflame our feelings against them; the advocates of “national expansion," who would have us trample on the rights of other nations to increase our own power and prosperity; the idle and frivolous, who fail to contribute their share to the nation's work; the profiteers, who think in terms of their own pocket-books instead of in terms of public service; the groups that put sectional or class interests above the national interest and think in terms of group-loyalty rather than in terms of the common good.
Professor J. M. Mecklin, in a recent volume, points out that the American “is patriotic. But the state that elicits his patriotism is a hazy idealistic entity that bears about the same relation to actual politics that the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount does to the 'rules of the game' in business. These shadowy ideals find expression at Fourth of July celebrations, or are evoked by the name of Lincoln or the sight of the flag. Seldom do they provide moral dynamic in dealing with the problems of the immediate political situation."
There is no doubt that as a people we are lacking, as Mr. Wells and many other observers have pointed out, in "state-mindedness." The complacency with which we have allowed politics to become the happy hunting-ground of self-seeking politicians, or with which we have allowed our precious natural resources to be recklessly wasted, are examples of this ineffectiveness of our patriotic emotions. Our patriotism has been too largely oratorical, a pride in what our fathers did, rather than a concrete impulse to make sacrifices ourselves for our country. Our young men are, indeed, ready to die for their country, ready to serve her unselfishly in time of war. But in the ordinary times of peace there seems to be too often a hiatus between their sentiment of patriotism and the duties and sacrifices to which it should lead them.
The fact is, that patriotism, like religion and love and every other great passion, is capable of great good and of great harm. Edith Cavell, as she went to her death, uttered four words which many people have declared the greatest saying of the war“Patriotism is not enough.” The critics of patriotism are right, with reference to the wrong kind of patriotism, the kind that is nothing but a larger egotism, a bias of the emotions and the judgment, an intolerant bigotry, a latent hostility to other peoples, or a ruthlessness in attaining national ends. But on the other hand, at its best it is one of the noblest sentiments, and far too valuable a motive force to be allowed to wane.
Just in itself, as a joy and addition to life, it is worth much to us. Edward Everett Hale's familiar story, "The Man Without a Country,” drives home this truth. We have many beautiful mountains and seas, rivers, lakes, cities, and park-like countrysides; we may well be passionately attached to the land and sing with genuine emotion "I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills." We have splendid public buildings, noble works of art and literature. We have a roll-call of heroes of which we may be deeply proud. We have traditions of high idealism which should be a stimulus to the apathetic and a rebuke to the selfish. To glory in all this is our right and our high privilege.
What a pity then, that we Americans should often seem to glory above all else in our prosperity and wealth, our mere size and power! It is not particularly to our credit that our ancestors found an empty and unexploited continent awaiting them, or that this abundance of free land and rich natural resources has made us richer than the older, crowded nations. Nor is it particularly to our merit that we have been able to keep relatively free from wars, with the oceans protecting us on either side. The question is rather, (What have we done with this lavish wealth, this unexampled opportunity? Are we building therewith a beautiful, brotherly, happy civilization? We have much of which to be ashamed. Pride is legitimate, and desirable; but it should be discriminating, evoked by what is really deserving of pride, and coupled with a genuine humility as we consider our faults and face the unformed future.
Above all, we must make our patriotism "not the will to power but the will to serve.” We should be proud to be honorable, generous, and conciliatory. We should desire for our country not its enrichment or power at the expense of other peoples, but such achievements as will redound to our common advantage. Our rivalry should be a rivalry in service. In the words of Mr. Stuart Sherman, “the new type of patriot no longer cries My country against the world! but ‘My country for the world !!”
Roosevelt did much to awaken this higher form of patriotism. “So far," he once wrote, “from patriotism being inconsistent with a proper regard for the rights of other nations, I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nation neither inflicts nor suffers wrong, just as a gentleman