Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Musings on Love for One's Country

About loving one's country, you raise two different questions. About one, about there seeming to be (now) no reason for loving it, I'm not at all bothered. As Macdonald says 'No one loves because he sees reason, but because he loves.'

Or say there are two kinds of love: we love wise and kind and beautiful people because we need them, but we love (or try to love) stupid and disagreeable people because they need us. This second kind is the more divine, because that is how God loves us: not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.

But the other question (what one is loving in loving a country) I do find very difficult. What I feel sure of is that the personifications used by journalists and politicians have very little reality. A treaty between the Govts. of two countries is not at all like a friendship between two people: more like a transaction between two people's lawyers.

I think love for one's country means chiefly love for people who have a good deal in common with oneself (language, clothes, institutions) and is in that way like love of one's family or school: or like love (in a strange place) for anyone who once lived in one's home town. The familiar is in itself a ground for affection. And it is good: because any natural help towards our spiritual duty of loving is good and God seems to build our higher loves round our merely natural impulses - sex, maternity, kinship, old acquaintance, etc. And in a less degree there are similar grounds for loving other nations - historical links and debts for literature etc. (hence we all reverence the ancient Greeks). But I would distinguish this from the talk in the papers. Mind you, I'm in considerable doubt about the whole thing. My mind tends to move in a world of individuals not of societies.
~C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III, Letter to Mary Van Deusen, May 25, 1951


Another job change for me, so posts have been scarce. Apologies!