The main character in Miguel de Unamuno’s San Manuel Bueno, Mártir explains that for him faith is not blindly believing in God, but rather desiring that He exist. In other words, faith is not about accepting God’s existence as a given, but wanting more than anything else that it were true.
I take a similar position on patriotism. I am not one of the tribalists who will blindly and unconditionally support my country/government simply because it is my country. Rather, I believe that we must demand, at all times, that our country meet the expectations we have of it. For at the end of the day, the government is nothing more than the reflection of the people it represents. As such, I believe we should be even stricter in scrutinizing the politicians we vote for than those we do not. For that very reason, for example, I am so critical of the Obama Administration. Precisely because I supported Obama, I am responsible for holding him accountable as my President.
Finally, in Grave Error, I am almost exclusively critical the U.S. and Spain (the two countries where I consider a part of society). For example, I often criticize the U.S. foreign policy toward certain nations, but rarely criticize those nations’ policies toward the U.S. The reason is simple: I am American. I understand my country and feel that as such, I have a right to judge its actions. On the other hand, I know very little about those nations (other than what the tribalistic American press tells me), nor do I vote for their politicians. I am unqualified to speak.
Moreover, just as I cannot stand those non-Americans who freely bash the U.S. government and culture — almost always from the standpoint of ignorance or half-truths – I particularly cautious not to fall into the same easy trap with regards to others. Just as it is dangerous to take the sola fide position — typical of Christian and Muslim fundamentalists — that faith justifies almost anything, patriotism based on pure tribalism leads us no where. True patriotism is about expecting more and accepting less.