Question: Why do Americans tend to be unpatriotic?

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 countrymen 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 of this revolution because Americans do have these feelings.

Two hundred years ago 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 this principle comes from the very depth, 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.

Whenever America's principles are attacked, America goes to fight for them. When two of your neighbours are fighting, you will naturally take the side of the one who has the same opinion as you. America did not enter the first world war until it saw that 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? It proves that America not only loves itself but loves other countries as well. America could have said, "Let us remain at peace." America could have remained peaceful during World War I. Only toward the end of World War II was America 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. Patriotic feeling is not limited to one's 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.

If there are some individuals who exploit the idea of 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. Unfortunately, if we see one bad person who is doing something very undivine while ten persons are doing a 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 and 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, nobody pays any attention. Anything that is not disciplined, that is contrary to the proper rule, draws our immediate attention. We feed our curiosity by observing it and then we tell others that this is what the reality is. But reality is something which everybody must feel from within. And if we go deep within, we will feel that America does have a tremendous sense of patriotism.