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Humans are well-known for being social beings. This leads to a need to bond with others and a feeling of belonging to someone larger than themselves. It has the potential to blind our humanistic sensibilities or to instill an honest and knowledgeable zeal for our convictions about nationhood and group cohesion. It is easily twisted to mean different things in different ways. Based on the nature of the argument, this term developed from a well-meaning phrase into a contentious and confusing definition. This is referred to as patriotism. From the root Greek word pater which means “father”, it also has a derivative known as patriots, a term used to refer to a person as “a fellow countryman” which can be a community settled within a territory. In the same vein, a similar kind of loyalty noted in another Latin word patria, which is the same as fatherland. There are instances where a country is referred to as the ‘motherland’ which serves to denote patriotism likened to the affection for the female parent.
The early definition of patriotism gravitates more towards the attachment of members to a group which they belong to and the territory in which they reside. The consequence was a feeling of pride, loyalty, and overall positive emotions towards the group and region which would serve as the tool that would shape the behavior and belief meant to be beneficial and progressive for the individuals that constitute it. As such, this devotion and selflessness that came naturally would serve to make their actions on behalf of them morally acceptable.
In retrospect, the meaning of patriotism has evolved. The current Webster Dictionary defines patriotism as the intense love and dedication one has for their own country. In contrast to the ancient definition, the concept of state and nationhood introduced what now forms the basis for patriotism as understood now. It can also be easily confused with nationalism. Nationalism refers to the collective enhancement actions such as wealth accumulation and power, the creation of states and exclusion of people of a different cultural or ethnic grouping with the aim of creating some form of “purity.”
In the essay paper, Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group Loyalty: A Social Psychological Perspective by Daniel Druckman (52), patriotism is referred to as a feeling of loyalty evoked by the intense attachments one has to their cluster without a corresponding disliking of another one. He argues for the positive patriotism which does not advocate for the demonizing of another community seen as an enemy. In addition, the paper describes the converse as nationalism, narrowing it to love for one’s group with a similar dislike for another person’s. The consequence is that fervent patriot can risk their own lives on behalf of a country, but a nationalist is more prone to go into war due to their dislike of other communities.
On the other hand, Zamir and Horowitz (45) note that patriotism can also serve as a root of all evil. In this case, an individual of a particular group can be manipulated and brainwashed into carrying out actions against other crowds that are harmful and destructive.
The concept of patriotism has been conflated to mean different thing to various people. Its generality has led to the misunderstandings due to the generalization of its definition. It has to be noted that word carries with it a sense of duality in that there exists blind and constructive patriotism. The different type of patriotism such as chauvinism, authoritarianism, and ethnocentrism all fall under its negative forms. The term should be replaced with blind or constructive patriotism as this will safely make a distinction between the two concepts instead of putting it into one ambiguous word.
In conclusion, the word patriotism should not be generalized, and its dual nature should be fully embraced and taken up to prevent misconstruing its meaning. A distinction between its negative and positive sides should be well outlined and the public well informed. Consequently, there will be a reduction of cases of people sticking to toxic forms of patriotism that are discriminative and destructive where an individual is rooted in values of their group without any questioning.
Constructive patriotism has a possibility of being embellished with a person’s self-awareness and knowledge of their group and the potential of having negative processes. These two separate definitions are caused by different conditions and situations. In retrospect, patriotism without morality or knowledge is just some type of extremism that is very destructive to this critical societal phenomenon.
Druckman, Daniel. "Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group Loyalty: A Social Psychological Perspective." Mershon International Studies Review, vol. 38, no. Supplement_1, 1994, pp. 43-68.
Zamir, Sara, and Tamar Horowitz. "The Manifestation of the Value of Patriotism among Israeli Trainee Teachers-natives and Immigrants: How Will They Educate Their Pupils in the Light of this Value?." Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS), vol. 11, no. 4, 2013.
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