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The Dangers of Sociopathic Patriotism

One of the greatest challenges of our time is developing the ability to cut through the deliberate distortion and propagandizing of current events in order to see the world as it really is.

A prime example would be the ongoing conflict in Gaza where openly lamenting the loss of innocent life is a sure invitation for hysterical charges of “sympathy for terrorists or “anti-Semitism.”

A person having sympathy for the plight of a people who, after four decades of military occupation, have found themselves living in what increasingly looks like the world’s largest prison camp is not the same thing as excusing the indefensible actions of those radicals who launch indiscriminate rocket attacks or suicide bombings against a civilian population.

Nor is the criticism of the collateral deaths or suffering of innocent Palestinians the equivalent of seeking to deny a nation the right to defend itself.

But nuance is lost on far those folks who are content to simply parrot the talking points of the nationalist pundits and commentators without so much as a second thought.

Such calculated indifference takes on sociopathic qualities when it becomes the accepted conventional wisdom or worldview of a society.

Sociopaths are generally recognized by their tendency to view others as mere objects that have no inherent value or rights which, in turn, justifies the self-serving behavior of the sociopath.

The sociopath feels no shame, remorse or guilt and will blame others — typically his victims — for the devastation he causes.

Sociopathic individuals and societies often come to regard themselves as all-powerful and all-knowing and therefore beyond the reach of rules and boundaries and tend to become hostile and domineering when their behavior is questioned.

When sociopathic attitudes are combined with belligerent nationalism cleverly masquerading as patriotism, there is a real danger of a society turning loose of its moral compass completely.

George Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism include this excellent observation:

“All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.”

Regular recalibration of one’s moral compass is not mere “navel gazing” as the sociopath would label it; instead it is a hallmark of intellectual and emotional maturity and requires the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

The world’s conflicts will not be solved by those who see others as objects and themselves as infallible. They will be solved by those who have the ability to see the world as it actually is; who see it as it could be; and are willing to bring the two together.


bryanhyde1Bryan Hyde is a radio host, husband, father, graduate student at George Wythe University, and seeker of truth. He does professional voice work through his company One Clear Voice.

Bryan blogs at The White Rose Society and writes firearm reviews for The Truth About Guns. He and his wife Becky are raising their six children in Cedar City, Utah.

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  1. This was very well written, it reminds me of a quote by Malcolm X.
    “You are not to be so blind with patriotism that you cant face reality, wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

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