asked by disciples on a trip to Boston, 9 June 1975
Question: Is patriotism in a dictatorship as meaningful as patriotism in a freedom-loving country?
Sri Chinmoy: There is a great difference between patriotism in a dictatorship and in a freedom-loving country. Even though a dictator may have patriotic feelings for his country, there is always a sense of conscious ego inside him. He wants his country to follow him. He feels that he deserves the love of his countrymen more than anybody else does. He feels that he is the supreme authority on the country and the country’s welfare. The dictator does not love his country as such. He loves his own capacity to rule the country. In a country under a dictator, patriotism will be a forced love of country, commanded by a higher authority. One person’s love of his country in an authoritative manner will be executed in the minds and lives of many. The many have no choice of their own. They cannot express their love of country individually.
In order to give to the country one’s own inner and outer feelings unreservedly, one must always try to live in a country not controlled by a dictator. A freedom-loving country wants to liberate itself from human sovereignty. The country loves freedom because it feels that in a life of freedom it can achieve more light, more joy, more satisfaction. A sincerely freedom-loving country will not try to get freedom by hook or by crook, but by soul’s strength and inner cry so that it can offer its capacity, its achievement, to the comity of the world. The patriotism of a freedom-loving country is for the country’s sake, for the country’s benefit, not for the aggrandisement of someone’s ego in a clever or unconscious way. In a freedom-loving country patriotism is a conscious prayer, a conscious concentrative force to spread freedom so that the country can achieve and distribute love-light to each countryman and to the world at large.