Well if someone genuinely cares for their country they could work with wholesome intentions, but I think most wholesome things contain a smidgen of ignorance.
That would be one way of redefining patriotism: “someone who genuinely cares for their country” (but this isn’t necessarily connected with the Dhamma).
Another way would be to define true patriotism as “rejoicing in the virtues and good qualities of one’s virtuous countrymates.” May help to have specific examples in mind like Ajahn Brahm for the UK and Australia. Could enhance mudita practice.
I’m fascinated by the notion of “bending” concepts so that they incline toward the Dhamma. Of course, such bending should be used skillfully (and in moderation) to avoid confusion.
‘Country’ is like ‘I’. ‘USA’ is like ‘Australia’ is like ‘UK’ is like ‘Robbie’ is like ‘Mat’ is like ‘Gillian’. Ultimately all empty constructs.
And much harm has been done in the name of some of these constructs. The current writer puts up her hand to participating in ‘UK’, ‘Gillian’ and ‘Australia’. Thankfully not the other three.
I wonder if the practice of kindness, appreciative joy, etc requires some ignorance.
That’s my understanding: that, at least according to Theravada orthodoxy, an arahant doesn’t make kamma because making kamma (good or bad) requires some degree of ignorance. Not sure if there’s direct supporting evidence in the Suttas for this view or not…
At the risk of getting too political, the antidote to this is to reflect on (and study) why Americans are more free and wealthy than the majority of the planet. South America: banana republics. Africa: the slave trade. Wars and colonies and, and …
It’s no accident that the USA is richer than other countries, because the US actively created a world order that makes and keeps Americans rich. So… are you really grateful to be the beneficiary of America’s violence?
Now, of course America also has lofty ideals and has introduced many wonderful aspirations into global politics, but there’s a reality under that rhetoric that isn’t too hard to see unless you don’t want to see it.
And there lies the problem with attachment. Sure, it helps generate (limited) gratitude and metta… but at the end of the day it prevents us from seeing things clearly.
So, as ever, the antidote to “raga” (passion, in this case for one’s country) is “asubha” (reflecting on the foul, disgusting side of that which you’re passionate about).
Hope that helps!