Lectures on patriotism are good, actions are better

Author: Angella Nampewo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Patriotism cannot co-exist with the mindless search for quick gains.  

According to several definitions, patriotism is the love, devotion and commitment towards one’s country. The government feels that this is lacking, and to that end, is moving to introduce patriotism courses at university. The youth need to be patriotic. After all, the country is their inheritance. 

While love of country appears to be on the decline now, there was no shortage of patriotism in the past. Back in the day, the older generation cared enough to attempt liberation of the country from the abyss of political instability and economic ruin. At which point then, did patriotism fall through the cracks? 

While theory classes are good, the young are notoriously good at learning by example. If we have enough patriotism in practice, we shouldn’t have to worry about making special arrangements to teach patriotism. It will be self-evident. If we show them that corruption is bad and that those who practise it have no room in society, they will know to pursue their goals on the straight and narrow. 

However, if it becomes ingrained in a nation’s psyche that the only way to get ahead is by being crooked, then no patriotism class is going to straighten out this lot. The basic rules of life are simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you would like to go to a good hospital and it is in your power to build one, then do it. Even Jesus said it when he was being tested by the Pharisees on his interpretation of the commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. Love God above all else. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40). We can make reference to a thousand different rules and laws but the basic principles we need to be good citizens are about being conscientious and decent to our neighbour. 

Our situation at home has also shown that patriotism cannot co-exist with the mindless search for quick gains. There is widespread thinking that in the pursuit of personal comfort, all bets are off, you can cut chunks out of the branches of this tree on which we are all perched and get away with it. Eventually, if we keep at it, the tree will collapse, if not in our lifetime, then the lifetime of our children. 

You don’t need a patriotism class to tell you that. This is common sense that should be gathered during one’s upbringing. If they teach nothing else, the houses of God should be emphasising this. Let’s not just schmooze with the leaders who are letting us down on service delivery while making huge donations in the house of worship. Call them out privately and publicly. Patriotism is not some part time activity we can revise whenever it is convenient. It should be a way of life.

Before Parliament attempts to pass any laws, they should be asking themselves if it is the patriotic thing to do. Before you do shoddy work on a project or take kickbacks on the funds, ask yourself if you would like to be the guy living with his family in that village where the roads are impassable or the health centres are ill equipped. 

Eventually, you will fall victim of your own actions. You cannot cut the tree on which we are all sitting. That is not patriotism. When you have done your damage, everyone will all fall down.

Ms Angella Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant     
[email protected]

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