I admire patriotism, the love of one’s country, of one’s people but I dislike nationalism, the placing of one’s own country as superior to others. Nationalism sees rivals, foreigners, immigrants, outsiders; patriotism shares love of country with all who share similar values.
“My country first” shouts Nationalism. “All peoples together” sings Patriotism, recognising others’ love of their own countries. Patriotism unites in shared values, nationalism divides into “them” and “us”. Both nationalism and patriotism are taught and learnt. Who are the teachers, students?
Nationalism play on the emotions, patriotism inspires love. Nationalism is easily expressed in the negatives of anger, suspicions, exclusions, but patriotism wants love of country to be shared and seeks mutual understanding.
Over these days of European Union elections we are going to see how far the nationalist politicians have succeeded in working on the peoples of their various countries. They have been working with each other, emphasizing what is wrong in the European Union, and appealing to the nationalist sentiment which puts one’s country/people first.
In a “Union”, as in a church, no one is first – we are together in common ideals. Patriotism seeks the common good, nationalism the national good.
All of us who are immigrants know the fear of rejection and exclusion. The Irish have certainly known it in parts of the United Kingdom, as have people of different races, colour, religion. To see it in our Church, as we do, even in our parish, is shameful. Sometimes I want to speak out in anger “There is racial and colour prejudice here, in our own church.” What shame.
God bless us, brothers and sisters all.
(26th May 2019)