Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "There will be no other country for us." Notes on patriotism

Everyone writes today about patriotism! So many words are said, so many battles are raging! The only trouble is that nothing has changed. Is it worth mentioning that in a large part of our society this term still has a negative connotation: “leavened patriotism”, “hurray-patriot”, etc. It means we did not learn anything and thus the discussion should be continued. So, I will try and say a few words about patriotism, and how it relates to our common well-being.


This is where we come to the very essence of patriotism, its basis. Who is a patriot? The one who with maniacal persistence time after time talks about the failures, errors and mistakes of our country? Or the one who turns the slightest successes into global victories, while keeping a blind eye on anything bad?

In fact, this is not an easy question. The outstanding literary critic Yuri Lotman, they say, liked to put the freshmen at a deadlock when discussing “The Captain's Daughter” (Pushkin’s novel, Ed.): “Was Emelyan Pugachev a patriot?” Soviet students responded in unison: “Yes! After all, he rooted for the people, dreamed of freedom and equality.” “Was captain Mironov a patriot?” asked the cunning professor. Then doubts began to emerge, but the audience nevertheless agreed: "Well, yes, he served the Fatherland." “And then answer me,” continued Yuri Mikhailovich, “why did one patriot hang the other?”
More than half a century has passed, and we still resemble those unfortunate first-year students. And, although we have not yet come to executions, the war between the “liberals” and “patriots” is raging full blast. At the same time, both camps care about the people and stand for the Fatherland.
I have put both these words in quotes for purpose. Those who call themselves “liberals” (from Latin liberalis, free) deny their opponents the right to freedom of opinion to such an extreme that, it seems, it is time for them to rename themselves. Some sources consider the word “patriot” to be of French origin meaning “son of the fatherland”. But some of them treat their country as a stepmother.
Looking at the skirmish between these two camps, you understand that it is about anything but true patriotism, love for your country or empathy towards your fellow citizens.
The true Russian liberal, critic Vissarion Belinsky believed that "to love your Motherland is to ardently want to see in it the realization of the ideal of humanity and to the best of your strength to promote it."
But how can we contribute to realization of the ideal of humanity within our homeland? It's very simple: you just need to be a man. Honestly do your job. Responsibly build family relationships. Care about others and be ready to come to the rescue of a neighbour. Comply with the laws, even if they seem imperfect to us.
Twenty years ago, the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote the lines that have become the slogan of many of our fellow citizens: “I love my Homeland, and I hate my state.” But, excuse me, the state is us all. It is not some abstract Martians, but we that throw the garbage on the streets, give and take bribes, cheat and lie, try to give less and take more.
It is absolutely infantile to first demand the favours from the state, and then consider if it is worth loving it or at least respect it. It is surprising that so many adults do not hesitate to show this attitude on the Internet and in real life.
The reality is that we live on this earth. Our ancestors left us a common history, a common state. And only we can make it better, no one else will come and build for us that Motherland, of which we all would like to be patriots.
In the end, it just pays. It has long been known that it is quite possible to perfectly equip private space by deceiving or exploiting others. But such well-being is akin to playing roulette: today you win and tomorrow you lose. The genuine well-being based on honesty and cooperation is much more reliable. And desire for the common good is the best fit for the definition of patriotism.
This is a rather boring daily chore. It is required to constantly correlate our actions with the interests of the country and society. This implies a sober and balanced assessment of what is happening around.
It's complicated. But it is precisely what is patriotism. And discussions and parades – that are, of course, also important – should be left for later.