Program in Christian Biblical Counseling: When Patriotism Becomes Nationalism and Virtues becomes Vice
Memorial Day is Patriotism not Nationalism
The corruption of the social virtue of patriotism is nationalism. Nationalism is more than a ethnic group’s deep yearning to find a homeland, but it is also an elitism that sees a homeland as only for one group. It is not inclusive but exclusive to difference and ethinic origin. This is apparent in both cases of Jew and Palestinian. Both group’s hands are bloody in absolute nationalism.
If one does not realize the inherent dangers of nationalism, one needs to only see the rise of fascist regimes in Europe as Hitler utilized hate as a primary rallying cry to unify a bitter German nation. This was also the case in Japan during the 1930s, as this tiny island imprisoned the South Pacific under its brutal dictatorship. Nationalism seeks to poison true patriotism. Memorial Day captures the true essence of patriotism. It seeks to remember, respect and show pride of one’s country in a healthy, conducive fashion devoid of hate. Contrary to this, nationalism utilizes hate, vengeance and racism to push forward its social agenda.
These unhealthy ideals lead ultimately to war where good men must take up their arms to defend the defenseless and weak. As knights, or “great men of the West” (Tolkien), previous generations have taken up the crusuade to defend society from nationsn that were intoxicated by nationalism. Good men have declared just wars against those who would strive to destroy peace.
Just War: An Oximoron?
During Memorial Day, we commerate a violent past that involves death and war. But we do not honor the death but the sacrifice and necessity of good men to stand up to tryants. As stated years ago, evil flourishes when good men do nothing.The invansion of Nazi controlled Normandy is an example of just war, where brave men stand up against the tryanny of evil
Hence is the driving principle behind “Just War Theory”. As St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out, in regards to defense and the greater good of society, nations may declare war against tyranny that would hope to eradicate justice. Killing while unfortunate becomes self defense. The just man does not wish to fight, fighting is the last resort. The just man does not wish for war or the death of innocents, but ultimately in the end, the just man must take up his sword when called. This is true bravery and is contrary to pacifisim which in more times than not correlates with cowardice against one’s duty. Hence a Christian soldier does not contradict the teachings of Christ when he defends virtue and justice in war.
This is one reason why we honor our fallen. The virtue of bravery or fortitude was instilled upon them to do what needed done against the armies of darkness.
So what is Memorial Day about?
Memorial Day Is About Love, Rememberance and Patriotism
Memorial Day is more than just watching war movies and cooking. True, watching the Duke take out a small regiment of Nazis by himself or Clint Eastwood ascending to where only eagles may dare is exciting and well worth the time, one must look beyond these stories. One must also look beyond the mere social event where families come together, cook, and have a nice “cold one” under the Summer sun. While swimming pools and and parties are important elements, they mean nothing if one does not understand the primary importance of Memorial Day. It is a day where society acknowledges the grief of families who have loss their loved ones. It is day of love and thankfulness to those who served our country so bravely. Finally it is about true patriotism that goes beyond hate but is about love and mutual respect as an American in a global community.
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Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C