There are those who say that many of the really good ideas have been thought of already.
Since I *mostly agree with this statement, but mostly because you will probably think he is smarter than most other people, I figured I would start by seeing what Albert Einstein has to say on the subject:
[Note: The following comes from the book "The World As I See It" by Albert Einstein. He had personal and direct experience with extreme patriotism having escaped Nazi Germany.]
"This topic brings me to that worst outcropping of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. .. This Plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism--how I hate them. .. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press." ~Albert Einstein
He goes on to say that the advancement of human civilization, from the discovery of fire and agriculture, to the invention of the steam engine, along with advances in morality, have come from creative free thinking individuals. Yet in modern times there seems an absence of great minds in proper proportion to the population. (He proposes a theory about the cause for this, and I myself have my own which I will undoubtedly go into at another time.) A consequence of this is that:
"In two weeks the sheep-like masses can be worked up by the newspapers into such a state of excited fury that the men are prepared to put on uniform and kill and be killed, for the sake of the worthless aims of a few interested parties." ~Albert Einstein
And later quoting Emil Fischer he says: " 'It's no use, Gentlemen, science is and remains international.' The really great scientists have always known this and felt it passionately" ~Albert Einstein
Elsewhere I recall him saying (although I can't find it at present) something along the lines that: internationally scientists, doctors, lawyers and other such professionals often have immediate understanding with one another over and above that shared with many of their countrymen.
Now I am an American. Since a large portion of Americans claim (falsely) that American is a Christian nation (as opposed to one of religious freedom), and because he is viewed as a moral authority by a notable percentage of earths citizens, I think it would be useful to appeal to what Jesus taught on this subject.
[For the sake of honesty I wish to make it known that much of the following comes from, or is based on Leo Tolstoy's "What I believe" and I did not think of it myself.]
Tolstoy points out that 'neighbor' as used in the New Testament is more accurately translated as 'kinsmen' or 'countrymen'. So when considering Christs famous parable: 'The Good Samaritan', it becomes immediately obvious that Jesus claimed that a foreigner of a different religion IS your kin or countryman, and in some cases is to be considered more so than your actual 'kin' and 'countrymen' based upon their actions.
The irony of modern biblical literalism is a topic which knows no bounds, but for the moment I want to point out one specific irony related to Patriotism which I also picked up from Tolstoy:
Christ taught that one should not swear oaths. This is quite important if you think about it. It means one cannot swear to obey a human chain of command, eliminating traditional military service, or take any position that is 'sworn in', including public office.
[Note: Tolstoy also mentioned Christs: "do not judge" is not "don't be judgmental" as taught by churches. He restricted one from serving as judge jury or executioner. Christ stood by his teaching here by refusing to condemn the adulterous woman to death as was the law in the famous "let he without sin cast the first stone" case. In a court of law society distributes and hides guilt for violence across judge jury and executioner. Similarly in the military it is within the chain of command. The wealthy sleep easy giving commands to enrich themselves. Officers train soldiers to override their conscience and 'just following orders.' Soldiers enforce the will of the humans at the top.]
When I was in Rome this past summer I was talking with an Archeologist staying in my hostel. She confirmed Tolstoy's insight and that this was the original interpretation of Christianity. Rome was extremely open and adopted all religions it came across. The reason for the famous 'lions eating Christians' persecution was not for religious but political crimes:
1) They refused to recognize Caesar as a god or swear allegiance to a human government or military.
2) They also considered 'Gods law', or the 'Natural law' as higher than 'Mans law' and therefore chose socialistic ideals and the 'good of all' in the community over obeying the laws of the nation.
[Note: This Civil disobedience was the example Mahatma Gandhi followed to create his life work after reading, among other things: Tolstoy.]
So originally, Christians were committing treason and disrupting society, and were therefore considered unpatriotic traitors of Rome. Contrast this with modern political views.
Ironically the acceptance of Christianity in Rome was spread largely by returning soldiers who related to the willingness to die for higher principles, and who were disgusted by the ways that the wealthy were abusing their sacrifices in war merely for personal pleasures.
Someone might ask me: Don't you love your country?
I am grateful and lucky to have been born in America. Undoubtedly I have been the recipient of many tangible benefits for the fact. But why should I wish to prevent others from attaining the same benefits (and more) regardless of their nationality or religion? Such results are those of nationalism: a superiority complex, and a degradation of the humanity of 'outsiders'.
Most everyone in the modern world is taught to hate the Nazis, and for good reason. Their evil carried out under national pride is well know. What is truly dangerous though is to fail to see that the Nazi's are not some unrelatable alien 'other'. The same pride exist within each of us, even if to a lesser degree. If we are not wary of Nationalism and Patriotism then we have learned nothing from history.
At the present moment I feel the danger to my fellow Americans and many others in the world, is more from within my country than from without it. Right is right. Fair is fair. Justice is justice. Peace is peace. These know no nationality (or religion).
Before fighting abroad, does it not make more sense to help those exploited or abandoned in the wake of Katrina?
We blamed the Germans for not acting but claiming ignorance of the death camps. They showed our Torture chambers at Guantanamo on the nightly news. What have we done of this? We don't even have their ignorance defense. So I ask you: are we really any better?
Thanks to Wikipedia for the following quotes (if you never donated money to Wikipedia, please do):
"My country is the world, all men are my brethren and my religion is to do good." ~Thomas Paine (Founding Father of the United States)
"To us all towns are one, all men our kin." ~Kaniyan Poongundran (Tamil poet)
"I am not an Athenian, or a Greek, but a citizen of the world." ~Socrates