Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

Nationalism is not Patriotism

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kent State chapter.

In this world of extremes, it’s hard to find the good and bad in something. For years, I’ve struggled to find the good in my country: thinly veiled racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, rise and acceptance of hate-groups and more run rampant. However, after all that occurred in 2016, I realized why I shouldn’t feel ashamed to don the stars and stripes: people. The ideals of America that I was taught as a child were all about hard-working people and the myth of the “melting pot”. We should celebrate these things, not look down or away from them! In this article, I hope to inspire a spark of patriotism that has lied dormant for too long.

Let’s make one thing clear, nationalism and patriotism are not interchangeable. According to Merriam-Webster, nationalism is “exalting one nation above all others” while patriotism is the “love for or devotion to one’s country”. What I’m trying to say is that you can feel a sense of pride for your country without getting a big head about it; kind of like loving yourself without putting others down, or ignoring criticisms to your actions. For the longest time, I refused to think of myself as patriotic in fear of being mistaken as a nationalist. I’m sure that there are plenty of others who feel this way as well. Once you can conquer that particular fear, you can fight for yourself and your fellow Americans much easier.

When you love something, you want to cherish it and see it grow. When you love yourself without ignoring the needs of others, you listen when you are told that you’ve done something wrong. When you love yourself more than everyone else, your actions can and will cause harm to others and, in the long run, yourself. The same principal applies to loving your country, albeit, on a much larger scale. If a group of people say they are being treated unfairly, listen to them. If you want your country to grow, if you want your home to be better for your children, you will listen. You can still be proud of a place while accepting its flaws. By recognizing a flaw, you have made the first step in fixing it. However, like most social issues, the good fight might also be long and hard. If you love your country, you want to see it grow. Nobody said growing was easy.

            When I say that I am patriotic because of people, I mean all the people. I mean we the people. The kind of people who started and finished the American Revolution. You should be proud of who you are and where you came from, but you should also remember that there is always room for improvement. Change can seem scary, but when you’re changing for the better, it’s not really. Love where you are, care for it and nurture it, make it better for the future and don your red-white-and blue when you go protesting.

Elena Ceccarelli is currently a fashion design major and costume design minor at Kent State University. She also spent two years at Edinboro University, where she discovered she enjoys metalwork and writing. She graduated from Hampton High School in Hampton Township, PA in 2013. Some of her passions include casual exercise, experimental cooking, watching dancers and plays, traveling, and animation. Elena also creates items such as flower crowns and sells and displays them with her sibling at @pinsnneedlesshop on Etsy, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and DeviantArt. Ceccarelli hopes that participating in the HerCampus community will broaden her horizons and keep her connected with the world.
Junior at Kent State, with a mojor in journalism and a minor in fashion media. I like to write about fashion, lifestyle and Harry Styles.