One of the easiest things we can do is to masquerade hatred as love. Most of the present day patriots (or nationalists, as they consider themselves) are motivated by hatred though they think that it is love of their nation that guides them. It is the hatred of a particular section of people that really motivates these patriots. Hence the violence that underlies the patriotism.
If you genuinely love your country, you will find ways of promoting its welfare. Love is not destructive. Love does not kill. Cruelty is cruelty even if you bring in gods and scriptures to justify it. In the olden days religious people sacrificed animals to appease gods. That was cruelty to animals though not perceived as such by worshippers. Today’s religious people sacrifice human beings belonging to other creeds in order to appease gods.
Whether gods are appeased or not, one can eliminate enemies with the contentment of a devout worshipper when religion is invoked to sanction cruelty. Is that devotion love?
A few years ago, scientists proved that the line between love and hate is indeed very thin. The nervous circuits in the brain responsible for hate are the same as those that generate romantic love. Professor Semir Zeki of University College London showed experimentally that hate and romantic love could produce similar acts of extreme behaviour.
There is much that is romantic about patriotism and nationalism in their passionately idealistic aspirations. If only our contemporary patriots and nationalists realise this truth and subdue their passion with a little reason. Maybe India will be a much greater, much better country then. What’s required is not so much passion but a bit of reason.