I recently finished reading Memory and Identity by the late Pope John Paul II (as a bit of a break from my personal challenge to read all of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings and because it was the only book that I hadn’t read and found interesting at the bookstore, excuses, excuses I know 🙂 )
Some interesting points he made, which eerily somewhat mirrored a conversation that I had months ago with the NSETs that I had worked summer camp at Jungdae Elementary, nationalism vs. patriotism.
Admittedly, both are somewhat interchangeable to me, neither really has had any definite difference, although for some unknown reason patriotism seems more emotionally charged than nationalism.
JP2 makes the etymological distinction that patriotism comes from the Latin word, ‘patri’ or father and that patriotism is respect for one’s father’s land (and thus one’s father), although it’s more common to associate emotions to one’s mother’s land. And nationalism is based on emotional ties (causes), than genealogical ties (as in patriotism). He doesn’t state that either is inherently negative, bad or disruptive, but he does infer that nationalism at its extreme can be a negative or an instrument of destruction. He uses the Third Reich and communism as examples of extreme nationalism, because the Third Reich had bits of Austria, Germany, Poland and the USSR was a collection of about 13 countries and then the satellite countries behind the Iron Curtain.
Nationalism is tied more to a person or a concept, a belief, whereas patriotism is tied to a country, a culture. A bit confusing and I’m not doing a great job of paraphrasing, but there is a difference.
Think of current issues in the States, when has a president tried to attract the attention of students as much as President Obama has? civilian security force, that answers to whom exactly? Flagging other citizens who don’t necessarily agree with your point of view or politics. Not being able to have an American flag in different situations. Which is becoming more important in America, the country or President Obama?