Mindful Patriotism: lifestyle, not a status update
The entire world was in awe when Japanese fans cleaned up the stadium themselves after Japan lost in a heartbreak to Belgium, 2–3 in the final minute of the match. This was the end of the road for Japan in the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament. Furthermore, the Japanese team left their locker room spotless with a thank you note.
This is patriotism! Service, humility, gratitude, identity.
14th August brings out the green and white in all its glory from painted faces to flag-covered cars across Pakistan and internationally. While, I am not a big fan of traffic jams and deafening firecrackers, celebrating Independence Day is significant and symbolic. Its more than just a reminder of our country’s origin but a call to action and its high time we heed the call and act with deliberate purpose.
“I will lay my life for Pakistan in a heart beat” said one of my students. We were discussing purposeful patriotism and the level of sacrifice one is willing to endure for the motherland. I stopped him right there and asked, “what if Pakistan doesn’t need you to die for her?” He looked rattled and his eyes darted for a few seconds. “What if Pakistan wants you to make your bed?” I added. He broke out in nervous laughter. I meant every word.
We have somehow trained our youth to have a one-dimensional mindset regarding patriotism. Its about shouting Pakistan Zindabad and uttering brave one-liners without any consideration for what patriotism truly entails. The ultimate cost is not borne by most but a few in the line of duty and we honor them profoundly. Therefore it is even more important that we do our duty, our part in our own way within the parameters of our daily lives.
Patriotism is multi-dimensional, conscious, deliberate and repetitive. Its a mindset and being of continuous service to the country in both thought and action. Its a lifestyle and not a status update. Of course, optics matter and one’s visible act of celebration on 1 day out of 365 days in a year, is appreciated but especially nowadays, we celebrate events to celebrate ourselves. It is we who are more important because that is what our social circle demands. The social media platforms reward us for our selfies contributions in likes and hearts while Pakistan continues to stand unimpacted.
Let’s take a quick quiz to see how patriotic you really are?
Do you make your own bed?
Do you throw trash in the bin or out of the car window onto the road with no regard for filth or danger you are creating?
Do you actively research and calmly debate dissenting view points or engage in violent flare ups spewing brainwashed ignorance all around you?
Do you habitually violate traffic rules while endangering yourself and all around you?
Do you pay for your college thesis and pass it on as yours?
Do you accept payment from students to pass them in a class they are failing?
Do you order building materials, stationary, food, supplies, etc., on behalf of your employer and pocket your “perceived cut?”
Do you admit when you are wrong even about the most benign of things?
Do you actively demotivate your peers or young colleagues and try to talk them out of their dreams?
Do you automatically switch to condescending behavior in front of helpers and support staff at home or office?
Do you dismissively cut lines and bully your way through situations and processes requiring basic patience?
Do you show up on time for work or for that matter any meeting of family event?
Do you show up for work on time and then spend only 1 hour of the 8 hours of the workday actually working?
Do you condone or promote hatred and divisiveness at any level in the community?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you need to know your face paints and flag waving falls short of adding value to the soil you stand on. Mindless ‘naray bazi’ (rallying cries) unfortunately don’t incrementally contribute to the country’s GDP or help in lowering its youth unemployment rate nor does it give genuine incentive for hard working students and professionals to stay back home in Pakistan and not leave for foreign lands.
Contribute to a better future for Pakistan in some way, anyway and anytime and anyhow — it all adds up. This is in gratitude of having your own land and the opportunity to build a better tomorrow, brick-by-brick. Do the small things right by you and the community and on repeat. That’s all. Pakistan thanks you for your mindfulness.