Just What is a Patriot?

soccer fans

USA soccer





Like much of the world population, I am caught up in watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup on television. Definitely a beautiful game when played with such passion and skill for the glory of their country.

And since this is the 4th of July weekend, my thoughts as an American living in London quite naturally turn to the topic of “Patriotism”.

Just what is a Patriot?

There is a lot of activity on in the world today that may look like patriotism, sound like patriotism (especially in the social media and news channels) and pretend to be patriotism, but is it?  It is quite easy to get Patriotism mixed up with Nationalism and Fanaticism, so this is my attempt to put things in order, at least in my own mind.

So here is how I see it:

A Nationalist focuses on their country, a Fanatic focuses on a cause, a Patriot focuses on principles!

A Nationalist is someone who blindly follows whatever his/her country’s government does and often lacks the ability to think and reason for himself. It’s not principles they follow, but people in power and loyalty to their country.

The Fanatic is driven by a cause that they believe in and is not loyal to any particular worjrwcountry, just a belief in the “righteousness” of their cause. The modern radical Jihadists that are currently tearing up the Middle East and trying to destroy the Western world are definitely fanatics. Their cause supersedes the rights and boarders of others. In their mind they have a mandate from “god” to destroy others. Tolerance and respect for others is definitely not in their vocabulary.

Flags-In at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VirginiaA Patriot is someone who loves their country and supports it, but won’t blindly follow whatever their country’s government does. I find it interesting that many of the early patriots during the US war of independence became statesmen for their new country. The same is true for the remarkable Patriot of modern Spain, Adolfo Suarez.

Some of my thoughts on Patriots and Patriotism:

  • Politicians are self-serving, statesmen are patriots
  • A Patriot is not an aggressor, but a committed defender of others
  • They don’t exclude, they include
  • They don’t hurt, they help
  • The don’t watch, they protect
  • They don’t take, they give
  • They don’t blindly believe, they thoughtfully decide
  • They don’t look the other way, they stand up
  • They don’t preach, they teach by example
  • They don’t hide, they stand tall and proud
  • They don’t compromise, they commit
  • They don’t sit in, they stand out
  • They don’t put themselves first, they put others first
  • They don’t put others down, they pull others up.

On this 4th of July, it’s great to be patriotic, just make certain it’s based on your county’s founding principles and not just flag waving at a parade. If you have forgotten what those founding principles are, it’s time to dig out the Declaration of Independence and reread it. Principles to live by, every day, not just on the 4th.

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton


John R. ChildressN2Growth: President, Europe and Chair, Culture Transformation Practice

Author of LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, and FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, available from Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014).

John also writes thriller novels:  novels.johnrchildress.com


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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1 Response to Just What is a Patriot?

  1. Pingback: Still the Exceptional Nation | PA Pundits - International

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