Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.
--Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)
(81:6.35) No national civilization long endures unless its educational methods and religious ideals inspire a high type of intelligent patriotism and national devotion. Without this sort of intelligent patriotism and cultural solidarity, all nations tend to disintegrate as a result of provincial jealousies and local self-interests.
(97:7.14) This prophet of the captivity preached to his people and to those of many nations as they listened by the river in Babylon. And this second Isaiah did much to counteract the many wrong and racially egoistic concepts of the mission of the promised Messiah. But in this effort he was not wholly successful. Had the priests not dedicated themselves to the work of building up a misconceived nationalism, the teachings of the two Isaiahs would have prepared the way for the recognition and reception of the promised Messiah.
(134:6.9) World peace cannot be maintained by treaties, diplomacy, foreign policies, alliances, balances of power, or any other type of makeshift juggling with the sovereignties of nationalism. World law must come into being and must be enforced by world government—the sovereignty of all mankind.
(195:8.10) Without God, without religion, scientific secularism can never co-ordinate its forces, harmonize its divergent and rivalrous interests, races, and nationalisms. This secularistic human society, notwithstanding its unparalleled materialistic achievement, is slowly disintegrating. The chief cohesive force resisting this disintegration of antagonism is nationalism. And nationalism is the chief barrier to world peace.
Sydney J. Harris was an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and, later, the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote 11 books and his weekday column, “Strictly Personal,” was syndicated in approximately 200 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.
Sydney Justin Harris was born in London, but his family moved to the United States when he was five years old. Harris grew up in Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. He attended high school with Saul Bellow, who was his lifelong friend. In 1934, at age 17, Harris began his newspaper career with the Chicago Herald and Examiner and studied Philosophy at the University of Chicago. After university, he became a drama critic (1941) and a columnist for the Chicago Daily News (1944). He held those positions until the paper's demise in 1978 and continued to write his column for its sister paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, until his death in 1986.
Harris's politics were considered liberal and his work landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents. He spoke in favor of women's rights and civil rights. His last column was an essay against capital punishment.
Harris often used aphorisms in his writings, such as this excerpt from Pieces of Eight (1982): "Superior people are only those who let it be discovered by others; the need to make it evident forfeits the very virtue they aspire to." And this from Clearing the Ground (1986): "Terrorism is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; war is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it."
He was also a drama critic, teacher, and lecturer, and he received numerous honorary doctorates during his career, including from Villa Maria College, Shimer College, and Lenoir Rhyne College. In 1980–1982 he was the visiting scholar at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. For many years he was a member of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. He was recognized with awards from organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In later years, he divided his time between Chicago and Door County, Wisconsin. Harris was married twice, and fathered five children. He died at age 69 of complications following heart bypass surgery.