When I was in school, I had a subject called ‘Moral Science’, which was a rather pathetic attempt the education ministry made at inculcating morality in children. You know, about honesty, kindness, hard-work, patience, patriotism.
Except, their patriotism sounded awfully like nationalism.
Yes, I know you are confused. If you voted for Trump, you probably believe nationalism and patriotism are the same thing. Allow me to break down the difference for your feeble little mind.
Patriotism is being attached to one’s birth place and reagrding it with much respect and integrity. It is rather emotional, where there is an intense feeling of gratitude to one’s country and also the willingness to work towards the betterment of the said country. Now, I have my own issues with patriotism, but I roll with it. It’s fine to get a sense of identity from your country, because that’s how we are wired. The notion of being connected, of having something in common with millions of other people keeps us sane. Alright, cool.
The problem begins, really, when nationalism kicks in. Nationalism is to patriotism what love is to having a childhood crush. Nationalism is intense, it is often irrational, it involves superiority and an apparent birth-right over every other country in the world. Nationalism is basically having a God-complex on a country level. Yes, your country might be doing well, but that doesn’t warrant you feeling so very proud of your country. It definitely doesn’t warrant you looking down upon other countries and their citizens.
Nationalism and ethocentrism go hand in hand. Nationalism and xenophobia go hand in hand. When you think your country is the best and that other cultures/ countries will destroy it, that’s your nationalism talking. Let me remind you, since you were clearly dozing off in history class, that every single country is made up of exhange of humans, cultures and ideas. We as a species have moved around to occupy the planet. And by the way, the next time you look at an African with dismay, remember that is where you came from.
So, in the light of recent events that resonate way too strongly with those in the 1930’s, take a step back and think. Are you making broad judgements based off the sheer luck in where you were born, or are you taking all factors into consideration?
I know it is difficult, I know it can become a matter of personal conflict when your country is being a douchebag. But you and I have the power to change things, only if we begin to accept things as they are. I now openly admit to my birthcountry, my homeland’s flaws – our complete disregard for the North East, our blatant abuse of human rights in Kashmir. And it makes me uncomfortable sometimes to face the truth. But I know at the end of the day, I’d rather face the harsh facts than be ignorant.
Here are some tips. Research, and don’t believe everything the media blabbers. The mainstream media is manipulative and controlled by the elite. Read the papers of the country you assume in your arch enemy, and maybe you’ll see their perspective. Talk to people who you think you don’t know enough about, or who aren’t represented well enough. When you catch yourself in an act or thought of nationalism, question your motives and justify yourself. Rethink and reimagine.
The world will never be simple enough to navigate, we’re long past those times. Maybe, it never was simple. As much as we boast about globalisations breaking barriers, it has ironically enough made us close into our shells again. As a manner of self defense against the unknown, for the most of us. The only way to be comfortable in an ever changing, dynamic world, is to be open to new ideas and challenges.
It is a struggle, but it is all worth it. It might just be how to stop our extinction, and I suppose the survival instinct surpasses all.