AMBASSADOR OF ISRAEL IN POLAND
Together, we can change the world. Fight against fascism, racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia together. And build a “better” world together. My name is Piotr Jaroszyński. I am a professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin. I lead the cathedral of the philosophy of culture. The main motive of my meetings with Poles is the problem of patriotism. I will try to explain what is the proper understanding of what patriotism is. The word patriotism itself is a word derived from the Greek language. Pater is a father. And so, when we talk about the country to which we belong and which we love, we are talking about the homeland. It’s a continuation of the beautiful Greek tradition. Unfortunately, today, this word has either been forgotten or distorted. Namely, trying to identify patriotism with nationalism, chauvinism or xenophobia. All these words are foreign origin, and because there are no Greek or Latin at school right now, most of the people don’t really understand what these words mean. Therefore, I would like to explain that nationalism, which originates from the word natio – nation, is something even dangerous for man or for nations because it means the exaltation and deification of one’s own nation. Nationalism is the treatment of own once’s nation as an exceptional nation with which other nations can not compare and even which other nations should serve. Well, this characteristic nationalism, especially for this shameful era connected with Hitler’s rise to power, is undoubtedly evil and reprehensible. Patriotism is not nationalism, also patriotism is not chauvinism. The word chauvinism comes from French and means hatred for strangers. So somehow it is close to nationalism, but in this case it means that relation of contempt towards strangers. Chauvinism is contempt for strangers. Xenophobia, in turn, the Greek word means fear of strangers. Well, patriotism is neither nationalism nor chauvinism nor xenophobia. Patriotism is a love for own nation and for own homeland. Thus, understood patriotism does not exclude respect for others, on the contrary we also want others to love their homeland and their nation. Loving our homeland, we respect the right of other nations that love their own homeland. Just as a man is obliged to respect and love his parents, which does not mean that his parents are the best in the world, the wisest and the most beautiful. They are simply his parents, and so he owes them respect and love. Similarly, patriotism because we come into the world in some nation and in some homeland, and this is the reason for respect and love for this very nation and for this very country. Patriotism appeared in Homer’s Greek culture. For Homer, this main theme of Odysseus’s return to Ithaca, symbolizes the love of man for his homeland, his native land, his countrymen. Although he encounters more beautiful lands than Ithaka, meets more beautiful women than his wife, but this loyalty to the family and loyalty to the homeland is something the most beautiful. Greeks considered patriotism as a virtue, and therefore as something that ennobled man. And this patriotism, understood as the right and proper love for its own nation and homeland, was taken over by the Romans after the Greeks, and then by Christianity. And for thousands of years, Poland has been breathing in the Christian culture, that is Western culture. Also accepted this beautiful virtue of patriotism of love for the homeland and nation, which is connected with work for the good of this nation, and is connected with a certain duty to defend the homeland and the nation, against various threats. Beginning with physical hazards connected with the fact that someone will attack us, and ending with the fact that we are obliged to cultivate this culture which is Polish culture, that is, the legacy that has resulted from the work of many generations including remarkably gifted people, we call them geniuses. Patriotism expresses itself in defense of the homeland and nation, and in nurturing and creating the native culture, culture of Poland. And like a Pole, he is obliged to defend his own homeland and cultivate his Polish culture wherever he is, regardless of whether he lives in Poland or abroad, as well as the Frenchman, the Italian or the Spaniard are obliged to do so. The concept of patriotism is the most Western notion characteristic of nations, which were created by combining local peoples with the legacy of Greek-Roman-Christian culture. Today, the attempt to depreciate, or rather to reduce the role of patriotism and even an attempt to identify patriotism with nationalism or chauvinism is a great threat to many nations because in this way people belonging to their nations lose their sense of identity that stems from both that it connects their blood with their countrymen, and that they share a common culture, through which they realize themselves as people. Frenchman speaking French, becoming acquainted with masterpieces of his literature, or contemplating the beauty of paintings, listening to French music, he realizes himself as a Franchman. Similarly a Pole reading in Polish Sienkiewicz, Prus, and Reymont, listening to Chopin’s music, viewing Chełmoński’s paintings, realizes himself as a man in Polish, as a Polishman. And thus, the attempt to deprive nations of their national identity related to the earth, nature, history and culture is actually an assassination of human rights. Therefore, realizing what a great threat is today’s tendencies to create super countries, countries that do not count for either the independence of traditional states, or the sovereignty of individual nations. Molochs are created, which tramples on human rights and the rights of nations. We must try to regain this beautiful virtue of patriotism to defend the human face of our civilization. to defend the human face of our civilization.