Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nationalism vs Humanism

Invisible barriers drawn as lines onto maps should not be the decisive factor in whether someone lives or dies. Where someone is born does not designate their importance. Being born in this country was a matter of luck. You did absolutely nothing to earn it. Nothing. You have never fought for it, shed blood for it, or even strived to make it better. Yet you believe that you deserve all that you have, and that those who've run, swam, paddled, dragged and carried themselves through things you probably cannot imagine should be barred entry because less than 1% of them might hurt somebody? How is that logical? 

Many people consider nationalism as a form of patriotism. However, upon closer reading of the rules of this attitude, those two terms have nothing in common apart from love of homeland. The term nationalism originated with the Latin word natio - race, nation, it defines ideology in which the highest value is the good of the country.

According to principles of nationalism, only a homogeneous nation, connected by language, culture and history, is an ideal form of social organization. Nationalism rejects ethnic minorities, strives to racial segregation and is reluctant when it comes to relations with neighboring countries. Twenty-first century concept of nationalism, based on social Darwinism, compares social life to the world of nature, where the constant struggle takes place, and only the strongest can survive.

There is nothing wrong with loving your country or being proud of it, but nationalism puts your own nation above others and above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love; love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.

Nationalism is inherently divisive because it highlights perceived differences between people, emphasizing an individuals identification with their own nation. The idea is also potentially oppressive because it submerges individual identity within a national whole, and gives elites or political leaders potential opportunities to manipulate or control the masses.

Hitler used nationalism to convince his people they had the right to rule the world. Israel used it to deny Palestinians their human rights. We have seen it again and again throughout history used to demonize others, justify war and commit atrocities. I am seeing it in my own country now, tearing people are part, making some think they are better than others.

At this point we ought to recognize that there is a humanist outlook now emerging in this world, which is trans-cultural. It cuts across frontiers and the cultural divide. If you tolerate all ethnic differences equally you are going to conflict. We have to move beyond that. Ethnic groupings are accidental, based on geographical isolation, with cultures and languages developing over a relatively short period of time in human history. We are reaching a stage where ethnicity can be reactionary, regressive, and divisive.

I favor liberation and tolerance, but a new planetary society is emerging. This global culture is authentically humanistic; it goes beyond chauvinistic ethnicity; it opens the door to a new, more inclusive ethnicity where we are all members of the world community.

Geographic boundaries are arbitrary; accidents of recent history. What say should they have on the worth of a person? On what we can, or cannot do together?

The whole idea of national pride has always been suspect to me. I have only existed since 1988, so how exactly can I be proud of the accomplishments of Americans before me? And how can I be proud of the accomplishments of Americans period, unless that American is me? People who are proud to be a citizen of the country they were born in are fooling themselves. It was not an accomplishment to be born into a given country. It is an accident of history that they were born there. If you become a citizen of a country of your own volition, I can see cause for pride. But just showing up into the world in a given place shouldn't make anyone proud. It is merely, a chance spin in the cosmic lottery wheel. We're all accidents of history and genetics, and the only things we can truly take pride in are the things we have done ourselves or in connection with groups we have chosen to engage in.

Forget Nationalism, be a humanitarian. We are all equal, even though we may not all be the same.

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