Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately I cannot see eye to eye with your assumption. You think that Americans are unpatriotic precisely because some of your friends or some Americans pay no attention to patriotism. When they see people talking about patriotism, they feel that in the name of patriotism these people are becoming prosperous or well known, while true patriotic feeling, true love of their country, they badly lack. There are people of that type, no doubt. But I wish to say that America on the whole has tremendous patriotic feelings. If there had been no patriotic feeling, there would not have been a revolution. Now we are observing the bicentennial because Americans do have these feelings.
Americans fought and they won the victory. At that time it was America’s personal need, immediate need, to be freed from English rule. Now America has a wider vision and that vision is called principle. Whether the principle is divine or undivine, perfect or imperfect, is up to God to judge. Only God knows which human principles are correct or incorrect. But America has a principle of its own and America feels that that principle comes from the very depth of its heart, from the inmost recesses of its heart. If that principle is thwarted or challenged, naturally America tries to prove the efficacy, the capacity, the reality, the divinity of that principle.
Wherever America’s principles are attacked, America goes to fight for its cause. When two of your neighbours are fighting, you will naturally take the side of the one you like because he has the same opinion as you have. Patriotic feeling is not limited to your own country. It is founded upon principle. You love your country and gradually your love of your country increases until it becomes a love of the entire world. America did not enter the first world war until other countries needed help in order to preserve the principles of freedom that America stands for. Then America came to the rescue. America took the side of the Divine in both world wars. Is this not America’s patriotic contribution to the world? If one country is attacked by another country and is going to be destroyed, if America comes to its rescue, what does it prove? America not only loves itself but it loves other countries as well. America could have said, “Let us remain at peace.” America could have remained peaceful during World War One. Only toward the end of World War Two America was also being attacked, and at that time America could have fought only against her direct attackers. But America stood up for the entire freedom-loving world. America has that kind of wide patriotism.
If there are some individuals who exploit the term patriotism, we can’t say that Americans have no patriotism. Just, because some Americans have a cynical attitude toward patriotism that doesn’t mean Americans have lost their patriotic feeling. Far from it. We see some individuals who have a cynical view of patriotism, but these people are very few. The only thing is that if we see one bad person who is doing something very undivine while ten persons are doing the divine thing, instead of ignoring that one person we make a mountain out of a molehill. We pay attention to the one person who is undivine, and we ignore the fact that ten individuals are good, wise, divine. When one person in a group is not listening to the captain, everybody will pay attention to him, whereas to the ten who are listening devotedly, we don’t pay any attention. Anything that is not disciplined, that is contrary to the proper rule, draws our immediate attention. We feed our curiosity by observing the fact, and then we tell others that this is what the reality is. But reality is something which everybody must feel from within. If we go deep within, we will feel that America does have a tremendous sense of patriotism.