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True Patriot Love

This reflection was originally posted July 2014 by Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s past Executive Director

True patriot love.

We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed.

A few weeks ago, in the $1.00 book bin outside a secondhand book shop, I picked up a book bearing that title: “True Patriot Love,” written by Michael Ignatieff while he was the leader of the Liberal Party. Flipping through the pages, I realized I prefer his prose to his politics.

“People love their country despite a lot of things,” Ignatieff writes. “They love it because they haven’t given up on it. They love it because of its unrealized possibilities. We love our country not because we think it is perfect or even satisfactory, but because we think it can change for the better….We never love a country just for what it is. We love it for what it might yet become. The same is true for the love we bear ourselves. Love is always rooted in hope.” (10)

Growing up, I had a bit of a hope deficiency myself. My deep sense of civic responsibility somehow co-existed with a profound cynicism. I was strongly against abortion but it seemed an insurmountable injustice, and I was just a kid so what was I to do? I thought I loved my country, but in some respects I had given up on it. Perhaps many of us have.

True Patriot Blog memeBut to give up on Canada is to give up on the Canadian men and women, suffering in the aftermath of their abortions. To give up on Canada is to give up on the preborn children who perished from abortion. To give up on Canada is to give up on all the vulnerable who will perish if we aren’t willing to stand on guard for them. To give up on Canada is to give up on all that it could become: a society that truly values and respects each and every human being.

Canada is not a good in and of itself, but a project begun by the Fathers of Confederation in pursuit of a common good for the people under their care. But present injustices violate the common good in profound and disturbing ways, setting before us steep challenges. At every level of government, within civic society, and especially within our own families and communities, we must take up the project and strive towards the Canada that should be, the Canada that will respect and protect each and every human being.

This necessarily includes our work on campuses. Our universities not only contain the age demographic most vulnerable to undergoing abortions, but also are responsible for forming and shaping young leaders who, in turn, shape the culture and the policies of our nation. To move our nation we must first move our own wounded generation from a place of apathy to one of action. We need a generation of patriots.

For, according to Michael Ignatieff, “Patriotism is the sentiment that makes a people demand reform, change and improvement in their country; patriotism is the source of the impatience and anger that makes abuses intolerable, injustice unacceptable and complacency a delusion.”

Yet, Ignatieff was supportive of abortion as a ‘right’, having forgotten to include the need for a true patriot love, one that is rooted in the truth of human life, not merely the politically acceptable.

On July 1st, [149] years ago, the Fathers of Confederation became nation builders.  It’s time for our generation to continue the project of Canada, for our true patriot love compels us to stand on guard for our nation and for each other.

(1) Michael Ignatieff, True Patriot Love: Four Generations in Search of Canada (Toronto: Penguin Group, Viking Canada, 2009), 10.
(2) Ignatieff, 176.

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