To ensure its security, Kazakhstan must build a sense of nationhood
NURIM ZULUPKAROVICH OaSPANOV, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY, KAZAKHSTAN
The enormous changes in recent years, as well as the problems inherent in raising a new generation, have led to a re-evaluation of patriotic education and its role in public life. Patriotic education has become integral to all activities in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
These issues are more relevant than ever and concern not just the level of self-awareness of Kazakhstan’s citizens, but are also reflected in the culture, politics, and even scientific and technological advancements.
A “patriot,” according to the dictionary of Vladimir Dal, is a “lover of his homeland, a champion of its well-being, lover of his native soil, devoted to his fatherland, proud of his country.” The Soviet Encyclopedic Dictionary defines “patriotism” as “love for country.” More contemporary understandings of patriotism connect an individual’s consciousness with his emotions toward his native environment, his upbringing, childhood and adolescent impressions, and his development as an individual.
Let’s assign “patriotism” and “patriot” the following definitions:
Reverence for the place of one’s birth and continued residence; love and concern for a given territorial formation; respect for local traditions; and allegiance until the end of one’s life to a given territory.
Respect for one’s ancestors, love and tolerance for all of one’s countrymen living in a given territory, and the desire to help them and dissuade them from doing evil. The main measure of this respect is benevolence toward fellow citizens.
Taking daily, concrete steps to develop one’s motherland; providing help to one’s countrymen and fellow citizens (beginning with the maintenance of order, tidiness, and ever-improving friendly relationships with neighbors within one’s apartment, stairwell, building, and housing complex, all the way up to satisfactory development of one’s entire city, district, province, and homeland as a whole).
Thus, the broader the territory a patriot considers to be his homeland (up to and including his country in its entirety), the more love and concern he expresses toward his countrymen.
The true patriot respects the patriots of other lands and poses no threat to them. In his own country, together with fellow patriots, he struggles against those who wish to do it harm — unpatriotic citizens with a minimal or defective patriotic consciousness, or those who sow animosity toward their countrymen, mistreat their compatriots and poison the environment. Alcoholism, drug addiction, hazing in the army, corruption, and embezzlement of public funds are all expressions of unpatriotic behavior in Kazakhstan.
Patriotism is an extremely private sentiment, located deep in the soul (or the subconscious). It’s possible to judge people’s patriotism only by their actions, not their words.
The patriot isn’t one who declares himself to be so, but rather one who is judged to be so by others. Thus, the only person who can be called a true patriot is one who constantly improves his physical and moral well-being, who is brought up well, educated and enlightened, who has a normal family, who reveres his ancestors, who raises and educates his descendants in the finest traditions, who appropriately maintains his living environment and continually improves his lifestyle and behavior for the good of his country. He participates in public events or organizations with a patriotic orientation, i.e., directed toward the unity of compatriots with the goal of improving and developing his motherland and increasing the number of his enlightened compatriots.
The independence of our state is a vivid symbol of pride for Kazakh patriotism. An elevated and solemn understanding of independence forms the basis of the national idea of Kazakhstan, which serves to unite our people and will become the priceless inheritance of our descendants.
Patriotism doesn’t grow on barren soil. Its roots are deeply embedded in a knowledge of the history of the country and an understanding and respect for the activities of those generations whose efforts secured Kazakhstan’s independence and success. Embodied within the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, patriotism is among the foundational principles of the state.
Particular attention should be directed toward the state’s symbols of independence. Instilling patriotism and respect for the country begins with respecting these symbols. The meaning of the state’s symbols is inseparably connected with the concept of sovereignty. These symbols reflect the values, principles, priorities and the historical fate of the country and are a component of the state’s standing in the international arena.
The symbols of a sovereign Kazakhstan reflects the general orientation of the ideology of the independent state, its historical development, frame of mind and philosophy, and is the embodiment of the centuries-old dream of both the Kazakh people and the multiethnic society of freedom and an independent path of development. For that reason, its widespread promotion and appropriate internal government use encourages the formation of national self-awareness founded on patriotism, love of country, a striving to serve its interests and a willingness to rise to its defense.
Essential to the development of patriotism in Kazakhstan are:
First, we must channel patriotism not toward destruction, but toward creation, both in public life and among those in power. With respect to a new governing elite, we must welcome fresh energy and the participation of our younger generation. Those coming into power should possess a feeling of patriotism. We desire patriotism that isn’t nationalistic or threatening, but rather democratic, based on true love for one’s country and people.
Second, instilling patriotism is an issue of national security. If we are not united, and if we fail to assume responsibility for the fate of our republic, we will not achieve meaningful results. A civic and patriotic upbringing includes promulgation of state symbols, respect for the Army, law enforcement and state institutions.
It is also a matter of educating the younger generation about the law to make sure they know their rights and duties and of preventing crime and promoting a healthy way of life. We must acquaint the younger generation with historical monuments, help them see with their own eyes the sites of past battles where our ancestors fought the Dzungars and stood up for their independence, or where the national government “Alash” was formed. This can instill pride in their ancestors, famous heroes, bards and statesmen.
Third, we must achieve meaningful results. Patriotism begins with love for family and homeland. It’s essential that everyone be useful in whatever field they choose. Schoolchildren must study well; university students must learn the basics of science. Public figures, civil servants, soldiers, people of culture, business owners — each must direct their energies to help our country flourish.
The young citizen of Kazakhstan must be educated and open to global innovation, but at the same time be mindful of his roots, traditions, and all the best things that differentiate the residents of his country. The youth must remain bearers of their native culture; they must venerate it but never impersonalize it. The future of society is in the hands of youth. They are no less than the future masters of our nation. This will help ensure that among today’s youth there is no room for nationalism, social nihilism, drunkenness, drugs, or most of all, indifference to Kazakh society.
When one feels deeply his indivisibility from his country and its nature, history, culture, mother tongues, territory, climate, and way of life, a deep sense of patriotism will arise. In Kazakhstan, many of these components are used to instill patriotism. The politics of the president are oriented toward elevating the social status of patriotism, forming a unified ethnopolitical community — “we, the people of Kazakhstan”— and the preservation and support of civic peace and multinational consensus.
Patriotism is pride in one’s country and its achievements. The new Kazakh patriotism means equal rights and opportunities for all citizens. The new Kazakh patriotism is not the parochial patriotism which, by obstructing communication between the country and the outside world, in fact harms Kazakhstan’s development and prosperity.
In Kazakhstan, thanks to the efforts of the first president, the country successfully passed through the stage of national renaissance, which was expressed in the discussions on the naming of the republic and the national language. This multiethnic consensus became the principle value and achievement of Kazakhstan.
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