Last week, I walked into a new class and sat down with my fellow university peers ready to welcome the introduction of our new social studies class, starting my new semester. It was so exciting! Finally, I’m in an entire class dedicated to teaching topics I had learned a whole semester before. To start the class, our professor had us complete an introductory activity. With a sheet of chart paper, she instructed us to write words that we associated with “social studies.” She told us we could represent them any way we wanted. Words came pouring out of my group: altruism, advocacy, activism, inclusivity. Then, one word was thrown into the air, patriotism, and we all paused.
(Image Source: CNN)
Canadians have all heard of the election campaign of the new President in America and some of the opinions shared by some of his supporters. Whether through news coverage or social media, we saw individuals ignoring the hardships of certain demographics. We saw individuals refusing to acknowledge the shortcomings of their country. Many in my group, including myself, expressed how we were wary of writing patriotism on our paper because we were afraid of what it could mean. “We don’t want to be so patriotic that we ignore the struggles of others.” “We don’t want to be so patriotic that we refuse to see where change is needed.” These statements came out one after the other in our discussion. As we watched the political debate of our neighbours, we became afraid to love our own country.
We watched our neighbours demonstrate an unwillingness to strive for progress, inclusivity and understanding. With the rise of Trump’s election, we saw many who cheered for the repeal of health care, who cheered for the removal of women’s reproductive rights and who cheered for immigration bans based on religion, did so in the name of patriotism. But since when did patriotism become the equivalent of these things? As I sat with my peers, shifting in our seats as we struggled to define patriotism, I began to consider the ways in which the American election had affected us. How have we as Canadians responded to the election? What are the invisible ways through which we have absorbed the cultural information brought to our attention through this election? It’s safe to say that we are aware of the consequences of blind patriotism, but what are the consequences of hesitating to love our own country? Will we fail to stand up for our country when we need to? Will we fail to act when we need to, allowing our country to fail to meet our standards?
(Image Source: CTV News)
My resolution for 2017 is to be patriotic. As a patriot, I pledge to hold my country accountable so that it will remain ethical and respectable in our eyes and the eyes of the world. I pledge to critically reflect on the actions of our country, to acknowledge when it is going astray, and to commit to working for progress so that our country never settles for average but strives for improvement. I pledge to be inclusive and respectful of all of my fellow Canadians. I pledge to love my country, but with a love that is observant, guiding, committed and involved.