The Swiss are very patriotic

Column - What Does Healthy Patriotism Look Like?

What does healthy patriotism look like?

In two weeks the Swiss Confederation will celebrate its 727th birthday. If the federal state of Switzerland were to have a national holiday, it would have to be linked to 1848. Paradoxically, the national holiday, which commemorates 1291, is also celebrated by the Neuchâtel people, who were a Prussian principality until 1857.

In any case, August 1st is a welcome opportunity to conjure up the narrative of the mountain people as well as that of the global, digital, mobile and multicultural small state in newspaper columns, on pulpits and at lecterns.

On August 1st, the new "Musée Grütli" opens its doors on the Rütli. This and next year video interviews from the exhibition "Heimat" from the Stapferhaus Lenzburg will be shown. Some of the interviewees associate “home” with family and friends, others with language, literature and songs or with mountains, lakes and landscapes. Some also speak of their ambivalence towards terms such as “home”, “love for home”, “fatherland” and “patriotism”.

Patriotism and love of the homeland are easily perceived, labeled and criticized as nationalism, although the difference is crystal clear.

Patriotism is love for one's own country, people and culture. Nationalism, on the other hand, is hatred, a feeling of superiority or indifference towards other countries, peoples and cultures. It is not disreputable to walk around in a Swiss camisole, hang up flags and sing songs from your homeland, as long as you do not try to place yourself above other countries and cultures.

I feel most comfortable when patriotism and love of home relate to values. It was not by chance that German thinkers created the term “constitutional patriotism” in the 1970s, which is based on values ​​rather than blood and soil. The Swiss Federal Constitution is also based on values. Right at the beginning, the preamble lists the central values ​​with which everyone can identify. That is why three years ago a new stanza for today's national anthem melody was created based on the text of the preamble.

The 2222 congregations in Switzerland can promote their healthy constitutional patriotism by singing the new hymn verse on August 1st. On the Rütli, the new text will be sung in words and in sign language in the presence of Federal President Alain Berset.

Admittedly: Morgenrot, Alpenfirn and Abendglühn trigger more emotions than abstract terms such as freedom and justice. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, we can sing the new hymn stanza as a calling card of our values ​​with a healthy love of home:

White cross on a red background,
our mark for the federal government:
Freedom, independence, peace.
Open to the world we live in
let's strive for justice!
Free whoever uses his freedom
strong a people who support the weak.
White cross on a red background,
our symbol for the Swiss Confederation.