Essay on Patriotism is the Last Resort of a Scoundrel

Patriotism is the Last Resort of a Scoundrel:

Patriotism means the love of one’s country. It is a natural instinct, a divine spark lodged in the human heart. It makes us serve our country even at the risk of our lives. The traditions and institutions of our country have a special charm and sanctity for us. A poet has well said-

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said,
“This is my own, my native land”.

Again, when a great man says, “Esat or West, home is the best,” when Gurudev Tagore reminds us that “Motherland is more glorious than heaven” and when a Britisher sings “Britannia rules the waves”, we have examples of pure patriotism. The list of patriots and martyrs in a country is generally long and memorable. Would anybody call in question the patriotism of such true Indians as Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, Rana Pratap, Lokmanya Tilak, Gokhale, Subash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Nehru and Shastriji?

True patriotism is free from risks. It is false patriotism that is full of dangers. There are a number of selfish and hypocritical persons who try to feather their own nest under the garb (disguise) of patriotism. There are many leaders today who are inspired by selfish motives and not by the spirit of any service or sacrifice. Many scoundrels or wicked people try to hide their wickedness under the cloak of patriotism. They work for their own loaves and fishes. Their patriotism is surely a pretence or a hoax. It is this kind of patriotism that got the well-known remarks of Dr Johnson: “Patriotism is the last resort (recourse) of a scoundrel”. This means that many insincere and selfish people pose to be patriots in order to deceive innocent people and attain a high position in public life. They make a show of their patriotic feeling, profess a deep love for their country and throw dust in the eyes of the public.

But the fact remains that in a democracy that is vote-catching machinery even genuine patriots or real politicians have to bluff the public with false promises. Some sort of cunning or falsehood has become inseparable from the life of a public man during elections. It is also true that there is a vast scope for temptations for him. More often than not he reports to objectionable means to secure votes and gains his ends. Misrepresentation of facts, false promises and undue glorification of their aims and objectives are not uncommon features of elections in a democratic set-up. Such practices make even a true patriot a scoundrel.

In India, there is no dearth of false patriots today. They wear white Khadi, especially the Gandhi cap, make fiery speeches, profess a deep love for their country and countrymen and pose to work heart and soul for their betterment. But all along their motive is to make their pile by doing hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering business. Pretending to be nationalists and patriots, they can enjoy the luxury of behaving badly with a good conscience.

Dictators generally magnify the glory and grandeur of their nation-states. They invest it with a sacred character and regard the government as its agent with unquestioned authority. They make it a God on whose altar individual freedom and rights are sacrificed. No true democrat can do so.

Today patriotism is not enough; nationalism alone will not do. We should love our country by all means but we should not hate other countries. A true patriot should not be blind to the defects of his own country. He should benefit from the good points of all countries. Patriotism devoid of the love of the entire humanity and all countries loses all its charm and glory. We should call ourselves the citizens of the world, instead of being narrow-minded and aggressive nationalists.

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