Many of us go for flag hoisting on Republic and Independence day and feel patriotic. We feel patriotic when we hear the national anthem and we stand up. We get angry when someone criticizes our country and feel a surge of patriotism. This is all good, but hardly enough.
Just like loving our children is not just about celebrating their birthdays and looking at their baby pictures and getting angry when people criticize them, similarly there is a lot more to patriotism than singing the national anthem and discussing the freedom movement.
To me, patriotism is about the everyday little things we can do to make our country a better place to live in. It is neither glamorous, nor does it make us swell up with emotion. In fact it can be quite tedious. But isn't child rearing often frustrating too? Yet, we do what is important for the children we love to have good lives. Don't we owe that to the country we love too?
To me patriotism is about being law abiding and considerate.
It is about, not breaking the traffic rules just because it is tempting. Breaking traffic rules is selfish and shows great contempt for fellow citizens. It creates chaos and causes inefficiencies.
It is about paying our taxes. Dodging our taxes is cheating our country and its people. We get so angry with corruption among politicians. Yet many of us try to dodge taxes that are supposed to pay for the infrastructure we use.
It is about respecting the country by keeping it clean, and not littering, even when it is inconvenient.
It is about waiting our turn and not cutting in to lines.
It is about treating fellow citizens with respect and politeness, no matter what job they have and what their socio-economic status is.
It is about offering your seat in the bus to old or handicapped people.
It is about refraining from practicing nepotism and using political connections to get ahead. We as ordinary citizens may not be able to directly reduce corruption, but we can make it unacceptable by refusing to avail of it when we want to put our children in schools or get a job, or a promotion etc.
Finally it is about living your life to it's full potential without hurting anyone else and contributing to the productivity of the country.
Some of these are ideals and may be difficult to achieve today, but striving to achieve them, to me, is everyday patriotism.
When we struggle to be patriotic every day, then celebrations like Republic day and Independence day are truly meaningful.