I once walked through a food court and saw a sight that burned a vivid image of patriotism into my mind forever. A small family had walked up to two neatly dressed gentlemen who sat at an eating area in a most dignified manner. They both looked to be in their mid 20’s and wore a long sleeved khaki button-up shirt and tie, and sky blue trousers with a red stripe running down their length.
By now you’ve guessed it already. The two gentlemen were US marines having lunch in their dress blues.
Now it wasn’t their appearance that struck me? Rather, it was the small family that briefly interrupted their meal. The little girl, probably about 10 years old said to the men, “Thank you for keeping us safe.” One of the officers nodded his head with a smile and responded with a “You’re welcome ma’am.” The parents said a few more things that I didn’t catch, and then they were off.
Since I was grabbing some lunch for myself, I was able to keep a watchful eye on these two fellows. Time after time I observed local citizens taking the time to stop by their table and offer a few words of encouragement and gratitude.
What a contrast to the cynical and sinister remarks I often hear about South Africa. Either it is the snide comments about Bafana Bafana’s scanty chances of making it out of the AFCON group stages, the useless police services, the racism, the poor education, the corrupt ANC government, the lack of wealth distribution, high aids rates, or the high rape and crime statistics. The list is much longer as you know.
From all of that I had to ask myself, which came first – a Great Nation, or Patriotism?
Has a great nation ever been built by a group of cynics? Some may site colonialism and slavery as examples of such. But every kingdom that has been built on such practices and principles has fallen. They fall because they are not great enough to stand against the cause of freedom and liberty - freedom to live and pursue ones ambitions without the hindrance of unjust laws and principles. Great nations are built around patriotism.
That doesn’t mean that great nations are perfect. But the unity of the people and the hope that they have for their future together always leaves room for greater progress. A wise man once said that we not only reap what we sow, but we often reap in greater quantities than that which we showed. We plant a little fruit seed, and soon we have a fruit tree bearing fruit for seasons to come. We plant a seed of thorns and soon we have bristles and thorns choking everything we have worked for.
Being patriotic is not the same as being naive. It is not being gullible when politicians and people of power make empty promises, but it is standing up and making them accountable for their promises. However, it is also about recognising good that is done and rewarding it. I once asked a colleague who hates the ANC if they could name any good thing that the ANC has done since 1994, and any good thing that they have done this year or last. She couldn’t name a single thing. Now some of you might agree with that, but I guarantee that if you can’t even think of one thing, that you’re being overly biased and critical. That kind of thinking is only destructive. The same can be said of ANC supporters who can’t see one good thing that the DA or any other party has done.
It is time we changed our mentality and became true patriots of South Africa. South Africa the great can’t be built until great South Africans rise from the dust. How many great South African’s? The more, the better!
If you’re not ready for it? Well, you can go to Australia J right Trevor?