I just had a great conversation with my oldest son about the difference between patriotism and jingoism.
The patriot's pride is rooted in a deep possibility for the future. She lives in a world of abundance. The patriot carries herself with humility; she remembers where she came from. And so, her pride is welcoming, and expansive – she sees partners all around. She's fought, when she's needed to, to defend herself from aggression and injustice. And she's forgiven when the battle is over, because she knows the spirit of America is the idea of limitless freedom for all. She's got lots of room. Her memory is long, but her grudges are short.
The jingoist's pride is rooted in a deep insecurity about losing something he never really had. He lives in a world of scarcity. The jingoist carries himself with arrogance, to protect himself from ideas and people that he deems threatening – threats which seem to ever multiply. And so, his pride is aggressive, and demeaning – he sees enemies at every turn. He can justify violence easily, but has a hard time unwinding the pretzel logic that characterizes his justifications. The pretzel manifests itself in walls and fences. His history is one-dimensional; his future is dark.
I've come to believe that jingoism for America is the single greatest threat to America. May the light of Lady Liberty shine for the patriots, today and every day.