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Patriotism Or Idolatry?


Yvonne
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I saw a picture posted on facebook today that offended me more than some soft porn pics I've seen. It was a picture of an American soldier in full gear kicking in a door. The caption read "Knock, Knock...Who's there?...America mother---!"

 

I think this aggressive patriotism is nothing short of idolatry. When the country (dare I say empire?) becomes more important than anything else, it becomes our god. What's worse, the person who posted it constantly posts things about how Jesus loves us and angels and such. And she's certainly not alone. I don't understand that. I'm ashamed for these people.

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Yvonne,

In my view, strong patriotism can certainly separate people and nations. It is often used by political entities to move the masses in favor of that which common sense and reason would dictate otherwise. It has been used very effectively by leaders to promote personal agendas.

 

I see it also but i am neither offended nor ashamed by such antics which devices seem to me to be inherent as a human attribute until one rises above such in the evolution of consciousness and no longer finds such devices edifying towards one's purpose.

 

Joseph

 

PS Eckhart Tolle has said ......"The Ego has rigid ideals because it has no contact with the infinity of Presence. To insure the reality of these ideals the Ego will defend them to the death. What kind of Ideals lead to war? Patriotism, nationalism, racial and ethnic hatred are good starting points."

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I agree Joseph. Ever since the agricultural revolution (and before in some respects), since we stepped off the plains and came together in larger groups to form civilization as we know it, we have been divided into social groups - be it by social heirarchy, religion, race, empire, country, sex or education to name but a few.

 

From an evolutionary perspective there is an argument for group selection, i.e. what is strongest for the group is strongest for the individual with regard to survival, but beyond this, grouping in any way is ultimately divisive when looking at the whole.

 

This is an example of patriotism, or nationalism, taken far enough to cause offence and be divisive as a consequence. I think the picture and comment you refer to Yvonne says more about it's author than it does about any feelings of nationalism. The author may have been a military person and may have an appreciation for the task being carried out, which would surely require a "it's me or them" mentality; there is MY group and then there is everybody else.

 

I have served in the military and understand that this tight group mentality is acquired through shared hardship and is a requiriement to go the extra mile in dangerous situations - not for your country as such, but more for your buddy standing next to you; in effect the abuse of this human emotional drive to protect "your own" is what powers the military machine under the guise of patriotism.

 

Paul

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Interesting. You know when room clearing Yvonne they call the door frame "the coffin". The first man in with his buddy's lined up behind in "the stack" is considered to be dead or seriously injured if the room being entered has the enemy within it. Imagine being in that mind space every time you clear a room in a building in a war zone, which could be hundreds. Every time it was your turn to be point, you'd be wrestling with your own mortality in a very real way. A tough job to say the least.

 

It doesn't justify being unjust or offensive but it gives the situation at hand a little balance when viewing things like this. Personally I take it with a pinch of salt. It's not right, but I understand where it comes from.

 

Paul

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I have no problem with 'patriotism' as such when it comes to social identity and responsibility (like voting, public service, etc.). However, this super-patriotism with its sense of superiority and exceptionalism is disgusting, and dangerous. Group selection (mentioned by Paul above) has its positive aspects, but it also has its potential dark side of which this is a good example.

 

How someone who claims to be a Christian (follower of the Prince of Peace) could espouse this point of view is really a puzzle. My only explanation is that the same worldview that motivates this attitude also motivates their religion. "Turn the other cheek" is probably seen as a nice, but naive thing to do with many biblical exceptions that can be used as a rationale.

 

George

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Well, you are both far more generous than I am. I don't know, I still am ashamed of it. It's like "here we are, big bad Americans, and the rest of you can go to he--".

 

Question for Yvonne,

 

Definition of Ashamed ......Embarrassed or feeling guilt because of something one has done or a characteristic one has.

 

Just curious here. Why are you ashamed at the action or characteristics of others? Is there anything you can do concerning the characteristic of another that has made you feel ashamed? If not, what is it in us or our thoughts that makes us feel that way?

 

Joseph

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Joseph,

 

I would not even think about answering for Yvonne, but I personally would not hesitate to use the 'ashamed' word here. I identify as an American and although I am not so naive as to think all Americans are paragons of virtue, I would like to think that our country generally represents much better values than those expressed in this picture.

 

George

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George, you took the words right out of my mouth. It would be somewhat understandable if the post was made by a soldier - it wasn't. It was made by a woman whose spouse and children never wore a uniform.

 

Yes, I am ashamed FOR the woman who posted it. She is, honestly, a nice Christian woman. What bugs me is, like George said, we are supposedly followers of Jesus, a man of non-violence in every form. I cannot accept such an aggressive - not to say violent - attitude from a fellow Christain. Period.

 

You know, Joseph, sometimes I think you like to kind of twist words around. I see that, too, as being aggressive. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but many times your replies to my posts feel like attacks. Just saying.

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You know, Joseph, sometimes I think you like to kind of twist words around. I see that, too, as being aggressive. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but many times your replies to my posts feel like attacks. Just saying.

 

Yvonne,

 

It certainly could be perceived to come across that way and i don't blame you for feeling that way but i assure you it was only meant to get you asking yourself questions in hopes you might come to a more peaceful conclusion of the situation. I apologize if you find my questions too aggressive. They were certainly not meant to attack you but perhaps cause some reflections..

 

In fact being ashamed is not a bad thing....

 

 

If it's others making us feel guilty that causes us to hold back from the full expression of the loving, joyous, peaceful presence that is our source and very being, the angst we feel as a result of holding back is nothing more than shame trying to happen.

 

We talk about others shaming us, but in my view, this isn't at all the case. Others make us feel guilty. Shame arises within ourselves, not from the external world. It can be extremely healthy as an impetus for our development of higher consciousness. It witnesses to the fact that we are capable of so much more in terms of love which is characteristic of our essence. Shame witnesses that we've been limiting ourselves and don't want to continue to live this negated existence but want to know ourselves in our fully conscious state.

 

In my experience, we only go through transformation to the extent we feel dissatisfied with where we are right now and awaken to our greater potential.

 

Shame is sourced in our radical desire to grow yet shame is not our natural state. Shame, i believe is the egoic state fighting to survive because it knows it has a short time to live. Perhaps you are at the point of a breakthrough. Also, just saying....

 

In love,

joseph

 

PS If after some thought you are convinced i am attacking rather than perhaps trying to offer pointers, just say so and i will be most content to remove myself from any replies to your future posts which in the past i have always felt are very thought provoking .

Edited by JosephM
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To me, it's quite clear what Yvonne meant, not feeling personally culpable but embarrassed that the US has this image to some extent. Also it is distressing to see Christianity associated with the type of behavior pictured, even if it was intended as sarcasm.

The news and politics can really get to me, if I don't balance it out with some spiritual reading.

Not to get off topic, but to say that 'shame is a healthy impetus for development' seems like the opposite of what Jesus exemplified in his life...he transformed people by accepting them just as they were, especially those who were marginalized--social misfits and outcasts--sharing a table with them, treating them as equals.

Edited by rivanna
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Hi Karen,

 

I can't say what Jesus would have thought about my statement but what i have found by my experience is that if we are to move toward love , so to speak, we must pass through and conquer the lower and more negative emotions. They are painful as a catalyst for suffering which on the positive side serves as an impetus for us to move past. IE Anger is in my view considered a negative emotion but i find it a necessary stage to progress beyond it. It moves us to pride which while negative pushes us towards courage then willingness and then acceptance through to reason and past that into love, joy and peace. So yes while shame is in my view a negative emotion of the ego along with guilt and fear, it serves as an impetus for one to rise above if ones goal is to a consciousness that is founded in love and peace. I admit , i have perhaps a different way or perspective of looking at this than most and personally i don't wish to second guess Jesus's position on what i posed. If anything, i have not expressed any personal displeasure with anyone including the person who posted the picture and any comments which is "accepting them just as they were" Perhaps jesus would not disagree with that.

 

However, i see no reason to jump on the bandwagon and express any displeasure (which doesn't exist in me) to measure the people or persons being discussed as the subject of this thread that are not present nor would probably be interested in what i have to say. I would prefer, if i have anything to say to express a positive side to shame as a stepping stone to that which is more positive.

 

That patriotism is often used in a negative fashion and extreme patriotism is a form of separation, i have agreed with in my first post here. (#2)

 

Joseph

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I would propose that shame can play a positive role in helping control anti-social, bad behavior - particularly when no one is looking.

 

Since, I assume it is a universal human emotion, it would likely have some evolutionary basis.

 

George

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I checked to see whether Haidt (The Righteous Mind) has anything to say about 'shame.' Among other things he says that psychopaths lack certain emotions such that "they feel no compassion, guilt, shame or even embarrassment, which make is easy for them to lie, and hurt family friends, and animals." (underlining mine). As I suspected, shame is an emotion that yields a social benefit.

 

George

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I see shame as an emotion that yields a social benefit, but that's usually when the one feeling the shame recognises why s/he feels shame and implements corrective actions. I don't think feeling ashamed of somebody else's behaviour falls into that category. I don't see how me feeling ashamed of somebody else's actions yields a social benefit.

 

Like many, I have used that phrase that I feel ashamed 'for' somebody else when what it probably is, is that I find their behaviour embarrassing because I perceive that they may be somehow seen as representing me, in some way. In this case, I could feel embarrassed for the poster of the picture and comment concerned, if I was American and felt that their behaviour may be construed as represenative of all Americans, myself included.

 

But then what Joseph raised seems very apt to me. That is 'why' feel ashamed of or for somebody else's actions? Their view has absolutely nothing to do with me, and if somebody felt that it did, well that's their business. I don't think it should bother me in the slightest. I might have a view that it would be nicer for all concerned if the 'offending' party didn't behave in that particular way, but that's just my opinion.

 

It would seem a lot healthier for me if I simply observed their comment, recognised that such isn't how I would act, and moved on.

Edited by PaulS
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I checked to see whether Haidt (The Righteous Mind) has anything to say about 'shame.' Among other things he says that psychopaths lack certain emotions such that "they feel no compassion, guilt, shame or even embarrassment, which make is easy for them to lie, and hurt family friends, and animals." (underlining mine). As I suspected, shame is an emotion that yields a social benefit.

 

George

 

George,

 

You are correct. Antonio Damasio, also an expert on human emotion, notes that the capacity for empathy often leads to feelings of emotion "as if" one were the other person. That can be uncomfortable when it does not match your expectations. It's the mismatch that's the problem.

 

Myron

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Spam post by new member (Williams) and an existing member response post deleted .... Also deleted and banned IP of Williams after 2 inappropriate posts for thread topics JosephM (as Moderator)

 

Existing members ----Please in the future hit the report button to flag spam. Do not respond to spam or advertising posts.

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Well, you are both far more generous than I am. I don't know, I still am ashamed of it.

 

And, I'm ashamed I can't be as generous as others in forgiving extreme nationalism. Without the competitive enthusiasm required for nationalism, realism TV, political combativism, etc makes for a lonely quiet life - just what I enjoy ;>) !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Patriotism isn't a bad idea in itself, but I think you should be well-informed.

 

No country is perfect, Loving your country doesn't mean being blind to its problems or short-comings.

 

As a Canadian, I feel a lot of patriotism for my country. I love my country and I love my life here. However, Canada has some issues, and there are things happening that I don't agree with. It doesn't make me less patriotic, but it does keep my eyes open.

 

Speaking as an outsider, I think the stereotype of the super-duper-patriotic American is annoying. Often that stereotype shows Americans to be gun-toting, xenophobic egomaniacs - and my experiences travelling in the US and having friends and family who live there have been the complete opposite. I think pictures like the one Yvonne posted are irritating, as they both a) make Americans look conceited and disrespectful (which hasn't generally been my experiences) and B) seek to display other countries as being weaker, second-rate, etc.

 

The funny thing is, it's kind of a vicious cycle. SuperAmerica propaganda is annoying to people in other countries, which makes people in other countries have a negative view of SuperAmericans. That negative view gets spun by SuperAmerican to fuel the fires of xenophobia and the need to conquer and control, which leads to photos like the one Yvonne posted. The phone is annoying to people in other countries, which makes peopl ein other countries have a negative view ... and so on and so forth.

 

I have a couple of family members who do fall into the "SuperAmerican" category, and in all honesty, I find them completely irritating. (Especially when they visit and still have to tell us how much better their country is than ours. Seriously - stop coming over then.)

 

Again, to reiterate so no one is offended - I do believe the majority of American people are normal, every day people who love their country but aren't idiots about it. The rest make everyone else look bad. And no, this isn't just an American thing. Every country has SuperCitizens who should just stop talking. The difference is that American publications are *everywhere* so it seems overwhelming sometimes. (Why is your president on half of our channels? We don't even watch our own political leaders that much! Though granted, your electoral system is definitely more entertaining!)

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