I have been thinking about what is meant by "Patriotism". Loosely defined, a patriot is someone who loves his country. However, let me dig a bit deeper into this definition. What does one mean by the "country" ? Does it refer to all the people living in the country ? Or does it refer to the geography of the country ? Most people think of patriotism as loyalty to the government. Most would say, it means loyalty to the constitution ? But how can anyone be loyal to a bunch of people you have hardly met or to a piece of paper ?
The reason for my questioning what patriotism is arose from a flame-war on some mailing list I am on. This particular list has been created for discussing e-governance issues. However, more often than not, people end up calling each other corrupt, money-minded (personally, I do not think there is anything wrong in making money) or accusing each other of trying to advance his own personal agenda. I am sick of it. At the drop of a hat, each one of them will swear that he is a patriot, but I doubt if anyone of them will be able to define patriotism to me.
I think Patriotism is one of those words which have been politically abused for a long time. It has now become a loaded word, anyone who says he does not like something about his country, might very easily be labelled as "unpatriotic". In worst case scenario he might even get hauled off to the jail on charges of treason. Personally, I am quite unpatriotic. I find it hard to show my show my loyalty to the machinery which is good at sucking up money (taxes) but giving back nothing in return. I even find it hard to believe in the constitution of India i.e. the words of our founding fathers. Sometimes I think Gandhi and Bhagat Singh were fighting not out of patriotism, but for their right to free speech and against injustice. Perhaps the title of a "just and thinking man" would be more apt for him. I am still confused whether saying someone a patriot is a compliment or a veiled way of calling him a unthinking follower.