My hesitation about patriotism and its close relative nationalism is that it always comes across as black-and-white thinking. And that's a trap. As individuals and as societies we are complicated. There is no national character; there are just filtered views that sometimes look like points of difference. Even the responders to this article have tried to emphasise stereotypes that they would like to be the basis of New Zealand patriotism: we are humble, they say; we are good generalists; we are this, we are that. For every rule you give me about the national character, I will give you a hundred exceptions from the people I've known.