An important piece that helps define how some feel about the subjects of legal immigration, borders, and patriotism came out today from The Catholic World Report. It rightly highlights the differences of understanding about this subject even within the Catholic church leading us to consider what both G. K. Chesterton and St. John Paul II had to say about it. Writer, Catholic convert and philosophy instructor, Jerry Salyer defines the parameters of this national argument extremely well in the opening paragraph when he says:
The nature of patriotism is – or should be – a hot topic nowadays. How one sees the controversial Brexit vote, the immigration crisis in Europe, and the 2016 US presidential election depends in no small part upon the question of what patriotism is, and what (if any) weight should be accorded it. Globalists argue that patriotism is outmoded and barbaric, and should be superseded by a devotion to the planet and the human species as a whole. Within the conservative establishment, the consensus until recently has been that patriotism can and should be retained—provided it is redefined to mean not a local attachment to a particular land and people, but a commitment to the liberal democratic principles of equality and liberty. Just as they have little interest in marriage as traditionally understood, neither globalists nor conservative establishmentarians put much stock in patriotism as traditionally understood.
The cosmopolitan and the conservative establishment have forgotten a third party in this argument: the traditional patriot. The traditional patriot loves his neighbor as he love himself. He loves his fellow man. But he realizes that he must first love his wife before all other women and the wife must first love her husband before all other men. They love their children before all other children, their family before all other families but not to the exclusion or harm of other families. Such is the case of their local preference, their love of country, its land, its customs, its language, its culture, its heritage. The traditional patriot loves these before all other countries but not to the exclusion or harm of other countries. They want the same patriotic love for every other family and country. Or as Chesterton puts it:
“To the cosmopolitan, therefore, who professes to love humanity and hate local preference, we shall reply: “How can you love humanity and hate anything so human?” If he replies that in his eyes local preference is a positive sin, is only human in the sense that wife-beating is human, we shall reply that in that case he has a code of morality so different from ours that the very use of the word “sin” is almost useless between us. If he says that the thing is not positive sin, but is foolish and narrow, we shall reply that this is a matter of impression, and that to us it is his atmosphere which is narrow to the point of suffocation. And we shall pray for him, hoping that some day he will break out of the little stifling cell of the cosmopolitan world, and find himself in the open fields and infinite sky of England. Lastly, if he says, as he certainly will, that it is unreasonable to draw the limit at one place rather than another, and that he does not know what is a nation and what is not, we shall say: “By this sign you are conquered; your weakness lies precisely in the fact that you do not know a nation when you see it. There are many kinds of love affairs, there are many kinds of song, but all ordinary people know a love affair or a song when they see it. They know that a concubinage is not necessarily a love affair, that a work in rhyme is not necessarily a song. If you do not understand vague words, go and sit among the pedants, and let the work of the world be done by people who do.” It is better occasionally to call some mountains hills, and some hills mountains, than to be in that mental state in which one thinks, because there is no fixed height for a mountain, that there are no mountains in the world.”
– G. K. Chesterton, The Patriotic Idea, 1904
For the entire discussion, please read Jerry Salyer’s “A Love For Everything To Do With Our Native Land”
Image source: Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire, The Arcadia or Pastoral State, 1834, wikimedia