Regarding Patriotism

The essential of every manifestation of true loyalty is adherence to Principle, and every lesser sense of it invariably leads to selfishness and illiberality. All who have proved worthy the name of patriot or hero have stood for truths which are universal in their scope and their beneficence. They have championed a world-righteousness, an ideal brotherhood.

Much that passes for patriotism demands a stage, opportunity for exhibition. It appeals to the galleries, is impulsive, sometimes foolishly brave, always cheap. It breeds sectarianism, pays tribute to the mistakes of past generations, fights for dogma, covets martyrdom, resists progress, makes the broad-minded weep.

Boswell credits Johnson with the famous statement that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels," and it is clear that he was right when we understand that he referred to that partisanship which is the very antipode of patriotism, and whose end is serfdom to corrupt leaders. If Christian men were but loyal to the larger and nobler ideal and interest; if they were always willing to see and promptly disapprove the narrowness and shortcomings of their own clan or party, how surely and how soon the demoralizing factors of social, political, and business organizations would feel the rebuke and shrink before it. Protest against evil, and the support of good, without personal or party discrimination, is essential to the moral health of the individual, of the community, and of the State.

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A Vital Faith
June 30, 1906

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