The Meaning Of Sacrifice For The Homeland

excerpt The reasons of the love for the HomelandThe need for a question: What is the love for the Homeland? Before long, a few hundred thousand of us, sons of this country, the flower of this generation, will be required to sacrifice our lives for the Homeland. Faced with this prospect, we have the right to ask ourselves: why is this sacrifice for the Homeland required from us? One may say that the question contains the answer: we sacrifice our lives for the Homeland; no more, no less. However, as we are not supposed to go and fulfill this duty like automatic machines or animals without reason, such as horses, but with a clear, deep conviction, we must by all means clarify the psychological reasons. (…) An intuition?The love for the Homeland is an intuition, as understood by a great thinker of contemporary France: namely a vision of one's personal – though remote and indirect – interest. The intuition of one's personal interest, which is nevertheless remote and indirect, differs from reason, because it is unclear and hazy, and resembles instinct, because it is profound and unconscious. As in the case of clear reason, the object of intuition is the vision of one's personal, though remote and indirect, interest; that is why intuition is hazy and unclear, whereas clear reason, being the vision of one's immediate, direct interest, is clear and luminous. Doesn't it often happen that our close interest comes into conflict with our remote interest, and the latter looks absurd compared to the former? This explains why war and sacrifice for the Homeland look absurd, yet, despite this, we can't help going to war and sacrifice our interests and lives for the good of our nation. Aspects of the love for the HomelandThe love for the Homeland is similar to the love for parents and, in its essential moments, it may be summed up as follows: In normal times, the Homeland is as good as absent for the majority of its sons. The more sincere and deeper the love for the Homeland, the more discreet and smacking of indifference. As in the Romanian proverb, in normal times some of the Homeland's sons can afford to be internationalist and pose as anti-patriots; in other words, having a Homeland and taking it for granted, they neglect and even defame it. On the other hand, there are those who, especially in normal times, flaunt their love for the Homeland, beat their breasts and profess their love like King Lear's elder daughters, with the difference that nobody asked them anything, nor does anyone want to hear their confessions, which, as a matter of fact, nothing justifies. In times of crisis, of troubled times, the love for the Homeland awakens and reacts powerfully; the more powerfully as it had been more dormant and more insensitive in normal times. That is why internationalists and anti-patriots, those who neglected, disdained, and were even ready to sell their Homeland in normal times, are now rushing to its rescue and living moments of sublime patriotism, while the professionals of patriotism of normal times now fall silent and make themselves scarce. With the danger of war, or an accepted risk with a view to prospective glory, the love for the Homeland is exalted up to the point of prompting the children of the Homeland to make the supreme sacrifice. You'll see then, as in France, revolutionary socialists and anti-patriots like Gustave Hervé claiming the right to the most exposed and dangerous post, while the voices of some professional patriots cannot be heard except when trying to hide their puny urge to put their actions where their mouths are. These are now selling their Homeland, which they used to buy in peace time, while the anti-patriots, who used to sell it, now are buying it back. Patriotism and religiousnessThe patriotism and the sacrifice it imposes on us will obviously elicit various objections. Since patriotism is similar to the love for one's parents, one may object that, if the Homeland is the maker of one's soul, it is absurd for it to request the sacrifice of one's body, because, with the body, the soul will also be sacrificed. Parents do neither require nor accept their sons to sacrifice their lives for them. Why does the Homeland, by requesting the blood sacrifice, indirectly accept the sacrifice of the soul's life? It is true that the Homeland is asking from us more than our parents. Patriotism, up to a point identical with the love for one's parents, is deeply different from this point on, approaching and identifying with the religious feeling. The Homeland, our feeling of love for our people, becomes what it is supposed to be – a religion. Indeed, the Homeland, like religion, requires the sacrifice of our current interests and lives, but both require this sacrifice in our own interest, because they have in mind our indirect, remote – though entirely personal – interest. Our religious feeling, for the most of it, consists of the fear of death and the hope for future life. Therefore, if the Church requires the sacrifice of our current interests and lives, it does so because it promises us future eternal life.

by Dumitru Drăghicescu (1875-1945)