The meaning of patriotism is different for an autocratic country than a democratic one. In autocracy, the lines between the country and the person ruling over it blurs. Patriotism for the country, in this case, translates into patriotism for that person. However, patriotism assumes a different connotation in a democracy, where the people of the country elect their government and where the government is accountable to the people. Love for the country, in this case, might not converge with love for the government.
The value of patriotism demands that the citizens love their country, remain loyal and committed to the development of the country. It is a feeling that should reside in the hearts of all the citizens of a country at all times. Whether this feeling of love, loyalty and commitment towards one’s country reflect on the government, depends on its functioning and the credibility that the government enjoys among the citizens. An inefficient, unpopular government will never be able to win the trust, love and support of the citizens.
By definition, patriotism is a feeling that fills a person’s heart with pride when he/she thinks of the nation; it’s a feeling which results from a sense of belongingness to one’s country. It binds people from diverse communities, religions and races together and gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of being rooted. The feeling is most strongly visible in the soldiers who sacrifice their lives for their countries. Though the common man might never get an opportunity to make such sacrifices for the country, the feeling of patriotism lingers in his heart forever, making him pledge his devotion to his/her country.
Elected governments in a democracy are under constant scrutiny and, therefore, need to keep working efficiently for the welfare of the people. The government too needs to be patriotic and be guided solely by the interests of the country. As long as it does so, it will enjoy the support of the people of the country.
The citizens of a country are under a moral obligation to harbour patriotic feelings towards their country. No such obligation commands them to support the government of their country if it does not deserve their support. They are free to express their disapproval and voice their opinions against the government. But to be disloyal or hate one’s country will amount to betrayal.
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