Patriotism, stupid

“It is unpatriotic to accuse other people unpatriotic.”

I was quite amused when I noticed that everyone was beginning to say “I am patriotic” before they were going to voice their opinion on Bush’s war on Iraq.

I was also quite happy that I didn’t need to say “I am patriotic ” before I say anything.

I haven’t expected such a scenario would arise in America. I have thought US should have already got this issue resolved. But thinking of Americans even elected Bush as the president, I shouldn’t be too surprised. I felt the same way as Bill Clinton had felt. When a country feels an immediate danger (no matter whether it is a real danger or a fake danger), people more easily turn to those who are brave but wrong than to those who are right but weak. The pattern is so similar to what we have in China. I don’t know if America has gone through about 150 years’ of war, as China has gone through, whether America will be just like the present China, which is often accused by some Americans.

Since patriotism became an issue here in America, I would like to say something about it. While I was in China, I, and people like me are often accused for unpatriotic. But I think at least I can prove that I used to be very patriotic. Here is a story.

When I was a kid, we used to play the game of ants. We made ants fighting with each other. After we pulled off the antennas of the ants, they became mad (I guess) and cannot recognize other ants. So when you put two ants together, they started to bite each other until one is seriously injured or dead. When we were playing this game, we often make two teams of ants. One team of ants are all strong and big. This is of course the Chinese team. The other team of ants are all thin and small. That is the Japanese team. As we have expected, the Chinese team always win. So you can see how much we love our motherland when we were kids.

I am still the same person who used to play the game of ants. But as I grew up, I learned to love my country in an adult way, not still in the childish way. However I feel many people around me are still expressing their patriotism in the childish way.

As I grew up, I realize the human being is the most important thing in the world. As I try to develop myself everyday, I also care very much about the people around me. I have learned so much from them and the Chinese culture. Without them, my life cannot be so great. Thus when I see some people, in the name of patriotism, are making the Chinese people suffering and unable to develop themselves, no doubt I became very furious. There are two darkest periods in my college life. One is during the military training. The other is during my study of the Culture Revolution. In both cases, I have seen too many examples in which the human nature was killed by some abstract phony concepts such as patriotism used intentionally by some people for their own hidden purposes. Every Chinese, especially those who enjoy accusing other people unpatriotic, should read through the Culture Revolution carefully. From my experience, I can say no one accusing me as unpatriotic has ever read much of the Chinese Culture Revolution.

As a matter of fact, those people know little of the Chinese history and the present society. They don’t know that loving a country is a huge responsibility.

It means that you are willing to suffer anything to promote the country to make a concrete progress. You need to learn a lot to be able to carry out this huge responsibility. A doctor cannot just say he loves the patients. He must be willing to go through all the difficulties to learn the skills. A person cannot just say he loves his country. He must be willing to suffer and learn all the knowledge. If you realize this, you will know it is very difficult to say you love your motherland. Even you love your parents, it is not so easy to make them very happy. It is a lot of responsibilities. So don’t criticize other people so easily for unpatriotic. Even I can believe that Mr. Bush’s intention on war in Iraq is really for the goodness of US, I cannot trust him in carrying out this task. I don’t think he understands the meaning of freedom, globalization and so on. What he did may put US and the world in a great danger in the future.

People like me are often accused as radical. If “radical” is the only reason that we are accused, I want to point out that the people who were enjoying the execution in Lu Xun’s article were really not radical. By accusing us radical, it doesn’t automatically mean you are very tolerate. Tolerance is achieved by being knowledgeable, by understanding and appreciating different things, not by ignorance.

Sometimes I felt difficult to understand why so many people are not aware that these abstract phony concepts such as patriotism have seriously damaged our lives. If I need to offer an explanation, I would think it is due to different value systems held by different people. Many people are just pursuing the fame and some other external things. So they don’t care how much they have actually grown and developed themselves. Of course, they cannot see how much other people’s growth and development are suffocated. Sometimes it is themselves who are suffocating other people’s growth and development. To get away from their wrongly rooted value system, they need to ask themselves a fundamental question: will I regret my life at the moment before my death? What is the meaning of life? Try to be honest with yourself and tell the truth.

As I was attending a discussion held on campus, one American professor described his contact with students in China. He said he was quite surprised that the student was fooled by the government’s propaganda on the Tiananmen Square Event. He said he could not believe that a college student would buy that story. Well, I would like to answer his question by asking him some questions. Why 60 percent of Americans support the war on Iraq? Why so many Americans believe in Christianity? For me, they are both lies. I remember something someone once told me. If one person tells you a fake story, you may not believe it. If 10 persons tell you the same fake story, you may still not believe it. But if 100, 1000, or 10000 people tells you the same story, you will believe it. Patriotism is also a lie made up by some people and talked into our minds by some other people. In China, we should train ourselves to be able to figure out the truth out of the lies told by 1 billion people. You Americans are really much more fortunate than us. But having the free press, you still need to read a lot to figure out the truth. Even though there are no big lies, there are still small lies. If you grow up in a group of Christians, you will need an ability to break those lies. Furthermore, in each society, there are so many stereotypes. You should train yourself very hard not to fall into those stereotypes. For example, one stereotype in China is the anti-Japanese mood among many Chinese people. When they are saying those anti-Japanese words, they are really like losers. A strong player should respect his opponent and learn from his opponent. Humiliating Japanese in words won’t do our country any good.

Patriotism, such a stupid concept! As a person is born in his motherland, of course he loves his motherland. Why should 30 percent of Americans be unpatriotic? We should reach a common sense that anyone who accuses other people as unpatriotic is himself unpatriotic. Such an accusation should even be banned by law because in practice patriotism is used too often by some people for their own needs, which often sacrifice the interest of the majority people.

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Filed under Cross Culture Communication, Essay, Liberal Arts

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