Express Patriotism - Today and Everyday

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Let my homeland be adorned with my existence
Just like a flower, that makes the garden rich

(Allama Muhammad Iqbal's 'The Prayer')

If every time you hear the national anthem, you end up getting goosebumps; if you've never used your right to cast vote, but you hold a reputation of a political analyst on FaceBook; if you love breaking traffic rules while driving around in Pakistan (except for maybe in the Capital) but you've the potential to become a traffic guru elsewhere; if, for you, swearing has become habitual and synonymous with load-shedding (and let’s not shed light on what load-shedding is); if you measure a person's level of literacy through the fluency of their English; if while waiting in a long queue you reach a level of impatience that makes you wonder why can’t they just do it the ‘Pakistani’ way; if before doing anything in your life, the first thought that hits you is what 'people' might think of it, then you have passed a legitimate test of being a Pakistani, my friend. And this post is dedicated to you! 

Patriotism doesn't have to be something that burns brief and bright, and fades after the 14th August every year. Meaningful acts of patriotism, like obeying traffic rules or helping the less privileged, can shine throughout the year. When patriotism is heartfelt, it's possible for a person, or a group of people, to overcome great odds, and this type of action is often witnessed during wartime or at the time of natural catastrophes. We may lack tolerance and discipline, but in our own unique and somewhat wild way, we have stood through the test of time, as a nation. 

Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country - J.F.Kennedy

Now, the question is how can we pay back our motherland for everything that we have always taken for granted?

Become politically engaged and use your right to vote - At this, I'm most likely to receive pessimistic counterarguments asserting that there is nobody worth your vote and whatnot. I think actively participating in the democratic process is an integral part of being a citizen of any country. When you rob yourself off your right to choose, you're most likely to fall victim to despair. Either stop complaining or start voting! 

Fuel your civic sense - The other day, one of my friends told me how on finding a few expired sodas in one of the most popular local chain restaurants, he actually took the pains of going to the food inspector and registering a complaint on purely humanitarian basis, no personal grudges. His civic sense amazed me. Why can't we all develop such sense of responsibility? 

Be honest with your job - Whatever the nature of your job, whether you're a janitor or an engineer, or a civil servant, commit yourself to it because that is the best way to contribute to the betterment of the country.
Do not litter. Period. 

Pay your taxes and file your returns !!! A strong tax culture would help us all in an enormous way. Taxes provide counter-balance by softening extreme disparities in wealth and benefits. This is how you can contribute to the progress and development of your country. Money collected through taxes is the corpus from which the state undertakes welfare activities to improve the living standards of the citizens. 

And filing your return would help the state document your tax history - how is that a bad thing? Don't fear, just file your return and if you need any assistance with it, contact me! I won't charge you a thing! 

A terrifying reality of our country is the economic imbalance. With so many of our fellowmen living below the poverty line, we must join hands to grapple with this inequality. Standing for those who cannot stand for themselves would not only root out the problem but also give us a great sense of unity. You may very well be aware that philanthropy in Pakistan as ratio of GDP is one of the highest in the world. No other country, in the developing world, has so many non-profit organizations that help the downtrodden on such large scales. There are so many providing laudatory services such as the Edhi Foundation (the largest fleet in the world), or the Shaukat Khanum Hospital (the largest cancer charity hospital in the world), and so many others. Besides, there is a large community of virtuous and generous private charity-giving citizens, which is incredible. So, participate in charity (if you do not already)! 

Buy Pakistani! When FIFA can use Pakistan-made footballs, why can't we trust our products? Patronize homemade products and help build better economy. 

Make it a point to spread the good news from Pakistan, no matter how minuscule. There is so much negativity spread through media and the internet, why not help the good news travel? 

Dive into our nation's history - Learn about the sacrifices that our ancestors have made for this motherland. There is no way we can succeed in changing the future without having a firm understanding of the past. We must make an effort to learn about the history in all its splendor and horror. You certainly do not have to agree with every event and decision made in the country's history to love it. Consider how the country recovered from those mistakes or can recover in the future and what can you do to help. 

We must work to disrupt racism, provincialism and other prejudices. Think 'we' as opposed to 'me'. We as a nation cannot afford a parochial consciousness, which prizes one set of people or race over others. We are all interconnected and are as much a part of this country and as our other countrymen. Developing a new consciousness that seeks understanding of what is best for the whole community would help in the long run. 

Support the Pakistani cinema - it's the age of information, where having control over the media really counts. Since the cinema is in a phase of revival, our support could mean a lot. A powerful cinema would portray the soft image of Pakistan and let the world discover our beautiful culture.

Know your worth - there is no way this world could do without us. Feel proud to be a Pakistani and carry your green flag with pride! Here's to our motherland, which has nurtured, sheltered, and fed us, despite our flaws and without demanding anything in return!

Happy Birthday, Pakistan! Happy Independence Day, Pakistanis!

P.S Treat your ears with the beautiful national anthem of Pakistan; it ranks first in the list of top ten national anthems in the world

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