Is American Patriotism Also Blind Patriotism?

1074 words - 4 pages

It seems that patriotism is one of the most common terms used during times of war. Governments often use propaganda about nationalism to advocate their political views of the hostilities. Sometimes they even force patriotism on their constituents with fear-mongering techniques, which can have dangerous implications. That’s not to say that patriotism is inherently bad—many wars have been won for just causes because of it. However, it is a mistake to only think of war at a national level. There are devastating effects on the soldiers, families, and victims of war hostilities. The stories read this week discuss the struggle between concern for macro-society (patriotism) and micro-society (family/personal interests) during war. While no narrative completely rejects the idea of macro-society, they clearly emphasize the greater importance of micro-society and the consequences of patriotism.

“Loyalties” is the first story which discusses the concept of macro and micro-society. It centers on a family living in an African village during the Nigerian civil war. The father and schoolmaster seem to be the most loyal characters from the beginning, as they are large supporters of the new Biafra. However, by the end of the tale they have switched their allegiances back to Nigeria. Their perspectives clearly reflect the bigger concept of the macro-society. There is an element of humor in the way they switch so drastically from one side to the next. The mother, on the other hand, represents concern for the micro-society, because she only cares about the tasks of everyday life. The tone of the story clearly favors the mother’s perspective. After all, she is the only character whose loyalties remain true throughout the entire story, and the author pokes fun at the politics of the men. Even the mother sees the humor in it all, telling her son, “Go and collect the goat…after all he is now a Biafran goat so we must take better care of it” (144). At the conclusion of this story it is apparent that the concept of macro-society during war has certain limitations and weaknesses, which can greatly impact the individuals and families involved.

Just as “Loyalties” discusses the flaws of patriotism, “Peace and War” explains the failings of micro-society. It depicts two men who go to war every day and treat it as business. They are casual about their job because the war is at a standstill, and there isn’t much action taking place on the field of battle. Yet they continue to serve their country daily, and show great patriotism in the process. Their wives have different opinions, though. The first wife doesn’t believe there is a war; she even suspects that her husband is using it as an excuse to cheat on her. However, the second wife is truly worried about her husband, calling him and checking on his safety quite frequently. Both women are concerned more with micro-society, yet in very different ways. The second wife is simply concerned about the well-being of her...

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