‘Patriotism’ is an emotional attachment someone has (or develops) to a nation which they consider their own. On the other hand ‘Nationalism’ is the existence of a group identity that aims to separate or differentiate a group based on culture and/or ethnicity. Patriotism is Positive and Nationalism is Negative
Nationalism in my opinion is the result of a feeling that only a differentiation can hold the group together. It is a completely negative feeling rather than positive. It looks positive only for people who either hate their own individuality or hate seeing other people free and moving forward with their individuality.
Patriotism in a way looks only at emotional attachment and in my opinion that can form towards multiple geographical locations all based on how and where you grew up and your experiences on the same. It is that tear drop that falls from an eye that cannot see a land he or she loves. It is that heaviness in heart when you are away, that love and longing to get back in time. I am sure there are people who would look at it differently but this is my opinion.
Now the problem in some countries is if you identify Nationalism as a problem and stand up against it you are called unpatriotic. If you are a citizen of a nation you have a set of responsibilities to the nation and this is based on a set of governance laws we live in. You do not have much choice to the citizenship you are born to, and some have a choice to adopt a citizenship you want.
One of my first real class on Nationalism, Patriotism and Humanism happened when I was traveling in train in India. I believe I boarded the train in Trivandrum. It was the general compartment and next to me sat a few people. One of them was a Jawan returning to the border on call of duty and another guy wore a Kurta that had jaisriram and Om imprinted in it and on top he was all wrapped up in a shawl with some sanskrit verses imprinted.
As we started moving as usual people asked the Jawan how he was doing and where he was being posted etc.. And he said his story. How he had come on vacation one year after his son was born and that he could only spend one week and had to go back. The guy had tears in his eyes when he showed us the picture of his kid and wife. The conversation continued and after a while the wrapped up guy pitched in and started saying things like “You should not be unhappy of going to the border, thats your duty, you are supposed to protect Bharat Mata; How can we live here peacefully when we think that the people who protect the borders are not focussed in their mind there.”
What happened after is an interesting debate which ended with me solidifying my thoughts on man and belief systems. I still remember the Jawan’s name but it does not matter because you will say I made it up, So I will call him a patriotic Indian. A Patriotic Indian who is also a genuine family man who safeguards a democratic India and not a Hindu Rashtra. Now you know who in India diminishes, downplays and exploits the patriotism of our Soldiers.The ones who say India should be a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ are the ones who disrespect our soldiers.
That day I realized that what you do for a living does not take away the fact that you are as human as I am, that you have the same emotions as me when it comes to family, that no one has a right to put the burden of the nation on the shoulder of the soldiers alone. Every nation should strive to be a nation at peace and not one that is always at war.
There is nothing more cheap than citing Soldiers and saying because they are safeguarding the country you should never voice against the Government. In a Democracy a Government is elected and when it acts like it is not then there is an issue. You do not judge my patriotism, you do not mudsling my love for innocent people in any country and call me unpatriotic. I love people, I love Freedom and Liberty, I love the ability to speak without fear, I love the fact that I do not live by any religion or scripture or ancient writing, I do not believe that someone centuries ago knew exactly what morality in my present world is.
Now for the picture here; not many people can be like him; it takes courage to be him; I am not saying I have it, but he teaches me something “People who supported Hitler were Nationalists and those who opposed him were Patriotic Germans” And history says that nationalism can maim and silence Patriotism even in seemingly good people.