The Importance of National Pride

Commentary by Simon N.

A few years ago, there was a news story about a man who suffered from a strange illness that wiped out all his memories. He had no recollections of his parents, wife and children. And worse of all, he could not remember who he was. He would spend day after day wandering the streets hoping to rediscover his lost identity. I am not sure what has become of the guy, but his desperate search for his lost identity underscores the importance of having a clear sense of who you are.

Some days ago, my local PBS station aired a documentary on the history of the British royal family. As I was watching the TV special, I became curious as to why Great Britain – despite being a great democracy – still maintains its unconditional support for the continuing presence of the royal family. The royal family, one might recall, no longer has any real political power; its impact on British society is minimal. Yet, Great Britain really goes out of its way to subsidize members of the royal family and thus supports their lavish lifestyle.

After much thought, I came to realize the similarity between Great Britain having an active royal presence and a person having some sort of identity. The royal family is a symbol of Britain’s glorious past, for better or for worse. Even when the country is encountering hard times economically or its standing in the world is worsening, the British people can always cling to their long and glorious history as a source of inspirations and a reason to be proud of their beloved country.

The same thing applies to France. The French may not have a royal family to salvage their pride when falling to hard times, but they do have many brilliant architectural feats to be proud of. France’s Eiffel Tower is arguably the world’s most famous modern structure. It is truly an impressive aesthetic and engineering feat, highlighting France’s past glories in the fields of engineering and arts.

Even the United States, which only has a little more than 200 years of history, has its own symbol of national pride. The Statue of Liberty stands tall, on the beautiful grassland of Liberty Island, as the symbol of freedom and opportunity. It is amazing as to how much the statue and the symbolic message behind it are known and respected by people all over the world.