SAY NO TO NATIONALISM
Nationalism as a concept is flawed. It fosters hate and angst. It encourages alienation and creates a gulf between people. Every Nation is equally important to someone of that nationality — so by what logic do we say our Nation is the best? Ask a Pakistani and ask an Indian, ask a Chinese from china and ask a Chinese from Taiwan — each of them will say my country is the best. I would say they are all wrong because they are all equally unthinking.
The basis of a nation state is the boundary — the border that sets it apart. The definition of boundary is — a line which marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. How can something which divides be considered a feeling that needs to proliferate?
There are enough differences in the world to sustain hate than add to that cauldron — this notion of patriotic xenophobia. The nation should ideally be treated as an administrative unit, is needed for the sake of laws and governance and a functional welfare system, nothing more and nothing less. The mindless display of jingoism — of considering the nation as the Motherland or the Fatherland needs to be rested. People need to open up their minds to imbibe a reality that is not based on traditional clichés. It may have been necessary till a point in times past, when a stranger was a threat and one had to defend one’s turf. It is animal instinct, the dog and the electricity pole or the tiger and the rosewood tree are manifestations of marking territory. I believe humans have developed their brains beyond looking at piss marking their area of control.
Yes there is a certain pull of the place where one is born or has lived for long but it is only force of habit and the peace of familiarity that binds one to the birth place and if he has moved then it is pure nostalgia that draws at his heart strings. This feeling, this ache of belonging cannot be extended to an extended piece of land. Move the person a few kilometres or a few hundred kilometres and the alienation of either place, the nearer and further, would still be similar in context to his ‘home land’.
Suppose someone lives at the border, his two nearest neighbours are both a 100 metres away on either side, but one of them is across the border. What logic dictates that in one house lives his ‘brother’ in the other an alien? What affinity does someone born in Kodaikanal have for a tract of land in Arunachal Pradesh? Why does someone in Amritsar bother about the teen bigha corridor? This chest thumping insistence all over India, of Kashmir being ours, is a war cry to whip up emotions amongst those not directly affected by its division.
From childhood it is drummed into our heads that the Nation is supreme, it takes on mythic proportions… Nation is considered the Mother…the Goddess at whose feet we should all submit. We take oaths to give our lives, if necessary, to protect her; yet within the Nation we will cheat and lie; we will steal and murder; we will take advantage of one another; we will jump the red light; we will not let an ambulance pass; we will grab; we will break the queue; we will not pay tax and we will do a million other things, within our short life span, to live a little better than the one beside. Yes, we do all of this to us, of the same nationality but when it comes to someone from another nation we say he is not one of us…sometimes we say he is the enemy.
It is time people began to think a little beyond what one has been hearing and learning by rote. People need to realise that the Nation State is an administrative unit, like there are States and Union territories and Districts and Tehsils and Panchayats. Using brawn, as a corollary to nationalism, to settle disputes is letting animal instincts, the dog or the tiger syndrome, rule. A nation and resultant nationalism would work best if we grow up to consider the former as an administrative necessity and define the latter as a commitment to obey the laws of the former… in other words when we stop getting emotional about the Nation.
I am an Indian but I am no better nor worse than an American or a Togolese. I will do my duty by my Nation but I will not say that my Nation is the best in the world. If I feel my Nation does wrong I will have the strength in me to stand up and say this is wrong, if my Nation does right I will happy.
If someone asks me what am I — I can only answer that I am a Homo Sapien which in Latin means “man who knows” where Homo is the human genus and sapiens is its only surviving species.