A missing dimension in public debate is an emphasis on achievement and what goes with it — pride. Pride (without complacency and with an awareness of imperfections) is important in spurring individuals and a society on to greater achievement. The loss of faith in the achievements of the past, history and traditions can be an important factor in the decline of a culture or a civilisation.
It is sad that with so much to be proud of in the history of western civilisation, young people today are being psychologically abused in their classrooms with tales of atrocities of the past and forecasts of doom for the future. This abuse is continuing at all levels in society, media and politics. There is clearly a relationship between this negative world view, and the unprecedented problems of modern western youth — in an age when things have never been better in material terms.
It is fashionable in some quarters to downgrade patriotism and regard it as a dangerous concept. Nationalism carried to extremes leads to ideas of territorial conquest and assertions of racial superiority. However, it is a sense of national pride and purpose that enables residents in a particular area to rise above the divisions of race, politics, ideology, class and the like. It is patriotism that unites the people and enables them to rise above narrow sectarian and other interests. A sense of unashamed pride which does not degenerate into jingoism or imperialism is essential for the growth of individuals and the development of a nation. A sense of national pride has spurred achievements in science and technology (the space race), sport and in economic development. The British belief in justice, fair play and their constitutional and legal institutions provided motivation to develop and export these ideas and institutions to various parts of the world. The American pride in the entrepreneurial system provided the impetus for a great deal of scientific, technological and economic development.
Pride in the past and patriotism (within bounds and without complacency) are essential to real human progress.