I woke up to patriotic songs – and Lord, do we have a large bunch I hear twice in one year? I groaned because honestly, I wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to listen to all these songs and speeches, but I had no choice. I got up, had breakfast, got ready – wore a white shirt, as is customary – and went from my safe haven on the 21st floor to the function my mother was participating in. More songs. Kids singing about freedom fighters and martyrs, immediately followed by eating of junk food and going home. And I wondered what the hell is wrong with our idea of patriotism.
The following will apply to people in most countries. Except if you’re in North Korea and somehow accessing this. Then, for you and your family’s sake, do whatever Kim Jong-Un wants you to. If he says Patriotism is being Loyal to the House Lannister and hating House Stark, then so be it.
Patriotism, my friend, does not mean wearing the colours of your nation’s flag and going around playing songs about your country and being grateful for 24 hours. It does not mean discarding the flags the next day and dumping your clothes in the back of your closet the next day. Patriotism doesn’t mean blindly preaching whatever the nation is and being proud and content about where you are now. It does not mean posting photos on Instagram saying #IndependenceSelfie #Swaraaj #LOLColonisers.
Geez, grow up. Instead of forcing your kids to sing songs about freedom fighters they never read about, maybe think. Talk to them about what freedom means to them and why they value. Instead of throwing the flags everywhere, clean up the streets that you live in. Instead of wearing white, wear black, protesting everything wrong happening in your country despite the ‘freedom’. Yes. Protest. Because trust me, those people we think of on days like these would be so saddened by the state of affairs today.
Patriotism doesn’t mean unconditional love for the state. Oh no. It means having the courage of pointing out when the nation is wrong and where it could do better – and contributing towards it. It means having enough awareness about you rights and duties that come with freedom. Fight for the freedom of the ones who still don’t have it, the minorities of our country.
Please, don’t have an overenthusiastic sense of patriotism for a day and get done with it. I’d rather see people have little, even a teeny tiny bit of patriotism everyday, and make change. Work towards economic, social, political and cultural development.
That being said. Happy Independence Day, India. And to all the people living in other countries who aren’t celebrating Independence today, well. Learn to celebrate it today and everyday for the rest of your lives.