Sunday, October 4, 2009

Divided and Ruled by Nationalism

Note from the author: I've struggled with concepts such as patriotism, nationalism, and even nationality itself ever since I became - what 10 years later seems to be - a perpetual immigrant ... Here's a little sample of my rather disorganized cranial diarrhea on the matters.

Generalizations ...
...are pervading our entire way of understanding the world around us. On one hand, they are indispensable and can be very useful, on another - and especially in wrong hands - they can be extremely dangerous to ourselves and others.

I consider nationalism as well as its fraternal twin sister patriotism to be one of such dangerous generalizations. For the purposes of this article, I will not spend any time on differentiating between the two, I will simply focus on its core purpose and belief. So, what is nationalism? The love of one's country? The irrational belief that the place where you were born and grew up is better than any other place anyone else was born and grew up in? Why are we proud of our language, of our nation's history, of our scientists and sports teams? Is any of it any of our own personal doing? Are those scientists and members of those sports teams our relatives or friends? Why are we even compelled to call all these things 'our'? What of all of that really is 'ours'? Are Germans proud even of Nazism and Russians of their bastard version of communism? What does WWII have to do with me since I was born fourty years after it was all over? Why should we care more for what our country-men did than what members of other nationalities did? Why should we feel in any way complicent or responsible for anything that any of our predecessors did? Logic, anyone?

1. My Country > Your Country

In my not so humble opinion, the tired old concepts of nationalism and patriotism suffer great loss of worth just on the basis of its core philosophy: my country is better than yours. It is almost caveman-like in its simplicity. To me, it is as useless as any burning-bush mythology that has outlived its usefulness (if there was any at the first place that is). It is the innate backwardness of fear of change that seems to be somewhat ingrained in our DNA - or just simply taught to us by our elders - that allowed such dangerous parts of our human repertoire to linger for so long. Some are more bold than others. However, majority clings to the 'old and tried even if failed a thousand times over' like a drowning man to anything that gives him/her the illusion of redemption.

2. Where Did Logic Go?

Besides ethno-centrism being its core purpose both nationalism and patriotism suffer another grave blow when faced with its sworn enemy - logic. While many claim that patriotism and/or nationalism is needed for survival of a nation, I will posit that patriotism/nationalism is any nation's gravest enemy.

A quick run-down of our global history can prove to you many times over that nationalism does not pay, as a matter of fact, nations pay for their nationalism. Quick overview of its victims: Germany, Jewish people, Poland, Russia (USSR), Japan, etcetera and so on.

3. The Real Problem

What one should really ask himself is:

Why do we still feel the need to separate people around the world into neat little packages with countries' names for labels slapped on them? Why can't we all strive for the betterment of ourselves and our fellow man despite his/her/our nation of origin? I am not arguing one should give up something for the betterment of others, I am arguing that imposing the hierarchy of nations and countries on the whole of humanity is dangerous and counterproductive to ourselves.

4. Countries/Nations Vs. Individuals

What more, I see it as an offense to any and all individuals around the world. Why should it matter whether one is from Afghanistan or Israel? Does it in any way add or subtract from who Joel is depending on where he's from? No. And since it does not, why should such distinctions even exist in a first place?

5. Somewhat of a Conclusion

Besides the existence of organized religion, the existence of nations (and hence nationalism) is humanity's gravest enemy. The less we distinguish among individuals or groups of individuals based on such superfluous grounds as religion or nationality, the less reasons we have for conflict and misery. And one can pretty safely say about 85% of all world's problems is thanks to these two. Just to give a quick example or two: what is behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What was behind the mass-murder of tens of millions of innocents around the world? Nationalism, religion, the irrational and dangerous belief that one group is somehow superior to another.

My Testament: I want us to love our collective human legacy and work together to repair our all of our human mistakes. USA did not land on the moon, the humanity did. Nobel was not a Swede, he was human. Einstein was not Jewish, he was a genius with a weird haircut. Hunger is not Africa's problem - it is OUR problem, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not rest on the shoulders of Israelis and Palestinians only, but on shoulders of everyone around the world. If a child is abused on the other side of the Earth, it is as much of a problem as when it happens in your own backyard.

Isn't it about time to finally commit to nothing else but living in peace with each other as individuals rather than members of any groups, religions, genders, sexualities, races, or countries? Isn't it so simple to see that the old saying: "Divide and rule" applies to everything that keeps people from working together and instead compels them to work against each other to the betterment of very few (that later on excuse their actions by seeing themselves as 'fitter', etc.) and detriment of the vast majority? Especially now while faced with such all-pervasive problems such as destruction of the environment, global economic hardship, world-hunger, impending pandemics, global terrorism etc.

These are not rhetorical questions. Our survival depends on how we answer them.

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