What does it mean to serve "your country"?

Too many people had written reminiscences lately of the Secret Service. Somebody mentioned the Official Secrets Act. Of course they turned on me, but I wasn't going to be cross-examined by that gang. So I spoke out.

I told them even if I'd known I wouldn't have stopped[...] I said you were working for something important, not for someone's notion of a global war that may never happen. That fool dressed up as a Colonel said something about "your country". I said, "What do you mean by his country? A flag someone invented two hundred years ago? The Bench of Bishops arguing about divorce and the House of Commons shouting Ya at each other across the floor? Or do you mean the T. U. C. and British Railways and the Co-op?"

They tried to interrupt and I said, "Oh, I forgot. There's something greater than one's country, isn't there? You taught us that with your League of Nations and your Atlantic Pact, NATO and UNO and SEATO. But they don't mean any more to most of us than all the other letters, U. S. A. and U. S. S. R. And we don't believe you any more when you say you want peace and justice and freedom. What kind of freedom? You want your careers."

A country is more a family than a Parliamentary system.

Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana.


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