I’ve been puzzling over these two men, Jeff and James.
Jeff is a great guy, easy to get along with, very generous, honest and reliable. Jeff’s only major flaw is that he cannot take criticism. He seems to sincerely believe that he is perfect, and takes any criticism as a personal attack. He has been known to threaten and bully people for daring to suggest he has flaws.
James is a fairly average guy, not as successful, nor as respected as Jeff. James hates looking bad as much as anyone, but when someone points out something he did wrong, he does his very best to make up for it, and to fix it for the future. He knows nobody’s perfect, and he sees himself as always ready for improvement.
The question I asked myself: Which of these man shows a better love and understanding of himself? Most people would say James does, or at least I hope you would.
Now if you model patriotism (love of country) after love of self, then a true patriot does not pretend his country is perfect. A true patriot will always look for flaws in his country, in order to root them out and fix them.
Socrates died at the hands of his own countrymen, fighting to improve his country. There is no greater patriotism.