IF flying the Jalur Gemilang and singing Negaraku are deemed patriotic acts, can those congregating and praying at houses of worship be regarded as holy?
There is no denying that these rituals help us love God and our country more, but they are just means to an end.
If “imagined love” is not translated into positive action, then such feeling is merely superficial — similar to emotions when watching a touching movie.
How do we love God and our country, which cannot be seen and can only be visualised?
Daily, we see our surroundings and interact with people. If we have little concern for what is happening around us and our neighbourhood, how can we profess love and patriotism for our country, which is only seen in a map and represented by a flag?
If we do not bother to study or work hard and contribute to the economy, will raising the national flag and singing the national anthem make us patriotic?
Soldiers can be trained to show utmost loyalty to each other over everything else, and fight as one unit. But, how do we nurture patriotism among civilians?
Before we can love or respect others, we must first learn to love and respect ourselves.
Pampering ourselves, such as gorging on food, is not loving but spoiling oneself.
Respect should be given to all human beings, including the poor, infirm and children, as well as animals, plants and the environment.
Patriotism is clearly lacking when pristine parts of our country are desecrated, with trees cut down, hills eroded, rivers polluted and drains blocked.
Decades ago, rice and fruits were grown in most villages. Today, many padi fields are left barren, orchards unattended and village houses dilapidated.
Pride and sentiment of old villages are long gone, and they never took off in urban areas as residents will not hesitate moving to better neighbourhoods.
There is little sense of belonging within the community. This brand of superficial patriotism has been perpetuated far too long.
Large corporations should step forward and channel funds into meaningful corporate social responsibility activities.
Malaysians should focus on patriotism and not sloganeering, symbolism, tribalism or negative nationalism. We should go beyond defending the country against imaginary enemies.
We will then realise that it is unpatriotic to give or receive bribes, cheat, steal, pollute and litter; or waste time, money and resources; or harm people, animals and the environment.
Patriots are admired all over the world as there is nothing wrong in lifting up one’s community or country, but there is nothing right in condemning other people and nations.
Our sense of pride in raising our Jalur Gemilang and singing Negaraku should not be hollow.
It must be accompanied by plans on how we can make positive contributions.
Patriotism is doing what we can for our country, with what we have and from where we are.