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A Country Must Love

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What is Nationalism?

Nationalism is love for one's people, concern for their total welfare, and commitment to promote their best interests.

One's people are those who belong together in one nation. a nation is "a body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own" (Random House Dictionary, Unabridged, 1983). Nationalism and patriotism are synonymous (Webster's New World Dictionary, 2nd College Ed, 1970).

Nationalism, However, must be distinguished from chauvinism. The chauvinist (from N. Chauvin, the loud-mouthed Napoleon loyalist) is ready to say, "My Country, right or wrong!" The Nationalist is not afraid to speak the painful truth to his people, like Jeremiah the prophet, because he knows in the end it is the truth that liberates. The chauvinist is ethnocentric, centered on his own people's culture, and achievemeents, so that he is blind to the history, culture, and aspirations of other peoples. The nationalist, while appreciative of his identity, is also able to celebrate the uniqueness of others; he respects the right of other nationals to be nationalist also.

The imperialist is chauvinist for he exploits other nations just to advance the interests of his own, particularly in the accumulation of wealth and power. The responsible nationalist, on the other hand, is the best proponent of internationalization, which requires the mutual respect that must characterize relations between nations.

Is Nationalism Dangerous?

Some people fear nationalism. They are afraid that it easily becomes ideology, fanatical, and uncontrollable! Arnold Toynbee for example, has defined nationalism as "the worship of collective human power within local limits" (Toynbee, 1957,p.14). We only need to reflect on what Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito did to realized the dangers of distorted nationalism. how else did they persuade their people of the "rightness" of their cause except by an appeal to national pride?

In more recent times, we have seen the break-up of the former Soviet Union, and of the former Yugoslavia, mainly on nationalistic lines. And what about Rwanda and the tragic way that Hutus and Tutsis have been killing each other in the wild abandon?

There are some who say the Philippines is not much different. we have many languages which are linked to tribal animosities. The tagalogs vs. the Ilocanos, the Cebuanos vs. Illongos, etc. In Mindanao many Muslims want to carve out their own independent nation. why should we stay together and remain one nation?

Is the Philippines One Nation?

For all our diversity, Filipinos belong together, Geographically, our archipelago of 7,107 islands is one, easily distinguishable from surrounding territory. We share a common history, which includes experience with two colonial powers-Spain, and the United States of America. Our hearts and minds are fired up by the same heroes and heroines, from Lapu-Lapu to Gabriela Silang to Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal. Much of our pre-Spanish cultures throughout the archipelago is similar, and the majority of our people are racially alike. Our major languages (or dialects) are similar in spite of differences in vocabulary, and we are on the way to evolving a proper national language called FILIPINO. We have been governed by a central administration over a long period of time, and we are all subject to the same fundamental law of the land, THE CONSTITUTION. Our aspirations-as expressed for example in Philippines 2000-are one. We are one nation.

Why Should We Love This Country

We ought to Love the Filipino people, because first of all the nation is God's provision for us. In his sovereign wisdom, He created us to be Filipinos; this is not an accident. Like the state and the family, the nation is part of God's means of governance in the world.

We have a peculiar responsibility to Love this nation that gave us birth, nurtured and educated us, etc. If we don't do it, who will? "No one can love the Filipinos more than the Filipino," wrote Jose P. Laurel.

Even Moses the lawgiver and Paul the Apostle were nationalist. Both were so concerned for their people Israel that they were willing to be cut off from God if only God would save their nation (Ex 32, Rom 9). We need to guard against ethnocentric chauvinism but it is right to Love one's nation.

Neither Anti-Religious Nor Anti-Foreign

To love one's country deeply does not make one anti-religious or anti-foreign.

The Filipino priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora were executed by the Spaniards on February 17, 1872 as agitators of the anti-Spanish movement. The charges were untrue for they were merely supporters of the secularization of the parishes. A little later Gregorio Aglipay finally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church o the issue of the Filipinization of the church and of the clergy. Clearly there was a strong anti-clerical element in the struggle for independence, but it was not anti-religious. Andres Bonifacio, the father of Katipunan, in the Decalogue: The Duties of the Sons of the People listed the first two as: 1) love God with all your heart and 2) bear always in mind that the love of God is also love of country, and this, too, is love of one's fellowmen.

When Claro M. Recto argued against the Parity Amendment to the 1935 constitution shortly after World War II, he was labeled as anti-American. It is fairer to call him pro-Filipino for believing that the patrimony of the Filipino nation belongs to the Filipino people. Why should Americans be given the same rights as Filipinos in,

the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum...and other natural resources of the Philippines...? (Schirmer, 1987, p.89)

Patently unfair and it was called parity! Recto defended the right of Americans to be patriots and Filipinos to be Nationalists. A relationship of mutual respect is healthier than one where a nation is a client-state of the other.

What Kind of Philippines Do We Long to See?

What is our vision for the nation? What kind of Philippines do we want to see? In the Short term there is Philippines 2000, but what about farther down the road? Here is a proposal. This is what we want to see.

  • A Land that is PEACEFUL. Where Muslims and Christians and animists and those with no religion at all can live together as friendly rivals but not as enemies. Where disputes are resolved by discussion and debate and not with the barrel of the gun. Where one may walk the streets at night unarmed and remain unharmed.

  • A People who are FREE. Free to think even the unthinkable, free to worship God according to one's best light, free to elect rulers and to replace them, free to argue one's case in the media, free to travel wherever one pleases, free to live and work anywhere in the Islands.

  • A territory that is SOVEREIGN. Friendly with all her neighbors, and working in the solidarity with them in promoting regional interests Cordial with all nations in the East and the West, the North and the South, but sovereign in her foreign policy. Free to chart her own destiny because we, Filipinos, have the special duty to promote the welfare of our nation.

  • A nation that is JUST. Every man and woman and child receives his/her due. The poor are not discriminated against because of ignorance or lack of access to the legal services. Judges and impartiality. Equal pay is given for equal work. Everyone has equal opportunity for education, housing, employment, medical care, and other social services.

  • A community that is PARTICIPATORY. A participatory community consists of people who take responsibility for their lives, and who are increasingly empowered to do so. Making decisions that affect their families and neighborhoods, their towns and cities, and the entire country. Being responsible for one another for "each man is his brother's keeper." Political in the broadest and best sense. Our stewardship includes the care of planet Earth, God's appointed habitat for mankind.

  • A country that is PROPEROUS. Not prosperity at the expense of freedom, but a progressive economy that grows from wise policies, efficient government, and honest business practices. Prosperity that does not merely make the rich even richer, but one that benefits all the people, reaching to all parts of the countryside, finally breaking the back of centuries of feudalism.

  • A society that is RIGHTEOUS. While Christians believe that only the gospel of Christ can put people right with God (declared righteous, not guilty!), there is a public righteousness that all men of goodwill can promote together. This public righteousness will minimize graft, tax evasion, violence, prostitution, and other expressions of a corrupt society.

How Do We Love Our Country Today?

Love of Country needs to be expressed in practical terms. Here are seven suggestions.

1. We try to understand ourselves better.

Who we are? Why are we characterized by certain traits? Where are our roots? What happened to us in History? Why do we regard certain individuals as heroes and heroines? What aspects of our culture should be affirmed, and what should be corrected? For example, why can we not come on time?

2. We work for greater national unity.

While we affirm our families and thank God for them, can we not put the national good ahead of the tribal and clan interests? The greater good for the greater number? Let us reject the argument of the Politician who cared only for his family and said, "What are we in power for?" Let us put away regionalism and encourage the Tagalogs and Ilocanos to love each other as brothers, so with the Cebuanos and the Illongos!

National unity means learning Filipino. There are few things that can speed up a greater sense of nationhood than a common language. Remember what our national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal said, "Ang hindi nagmahal sa sariling wika ay masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda!" (He who does not love his own native language is worse than an animal or smelly fish!).

3. We get involved in our society.

In our barangay affairs, in provincial matters, in national issues. It is not enough to vote; we must promote the better candidates. We work for public righteousness. We write letters to the newspapers. We join peaceful rallies. We must be political in the best sense, for to paraphrase a famous saying, "Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.

4. We wave our flag and sing our song.

When we honor the flag and sing our Lupang Hinirang let it not be empty ritual but let it become powerful symbolism that tugs at our heart strings and empowers our wills. The Filipino is worth dying for.

5. We buy Filipino.

Sometimes our goods are not as good as foreign-made ones, but if we do not patronize them, they will never become good. Even if they are not as good, our patronage helps feed our people.

6. We protect our patrimony.

Let us fight the pollution of our rivers and the denudation of our forests, for the sake of our children.

7. We pour out our lives here.

Some of us may have to go abroad for further training, for temporary employment, or even for political refuge (like the ilustrados who led the propaganda movement in Europe). In the end, it is more difficult to love our nation "from a distance." The grass may look greener on the other side, but most of us meant to stay put it in our pasture. To love the Filipino people!

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