Monday, June 29, 2009

Teddy Roosevelt on patriotism and the world

I first read this quote in The American Patriot's Almanac, by Bill Bennett and John Cribb. It struck me as incredibly illuminating in today's "global village" atmospherics, and given the current President's penchant for traipsing around the world apologizing for or otherwise diminishing America's place in history.

It is from a lengthy and memorable TR speech, labeled thus:

"The Man In The Arena"
Speech at the Sorbonne
Paris, France
April 23, 1910

The speech is, as the title gives way, the source of the famous "in the arena" quote.

Here is the quote; read it carefully, perhaps again and again, and let it inform your view of where we are today.

I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually an exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in. In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all others countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother. However broad and deep a man's sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land.

Now, this does not mean in the least that a man should not wish to do good outside of his native land. On the contrary, just as I think that the man who loves his family is more apt to be a good neighbor than the man who does not, so I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strongly patriotic nation.

You can find the entire speech here, and reading it will be well worth your while.

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