On motherland


[[http://nakulmandan.blogspot.com | Nakul]] and I have been debating on nationalism and whether one should feel a certain way about one’s country by virtue of being born and/or brought up in it (see [[http://nakulmandan.blogspot.com/2005/07/hypocrisy-is-it-just-indians.html|this]] and [[http://floatingsun.net/blog/2005/07/21/55/|this]] for context).

A couple of days back, Nakul raised the issue again in [[http://nakulmandan.blogspot.com/2005/08/motherland.html|this post]]. The quote mentioned there-in is very well written indeed (that [[http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20050811&fname=monbiot&sid=1&pn=1|outlook article]] raises some very good points, and presents them succinctly). It might all boil down to just a difference in perspective, but let me still try to further elaborate on my point of view. I’ll give you three different ways of looking at it.

**Why you //must// have some feelings for your motherland**

Nakul (and that article) say that they are not ashamed of their nationality, but why should they feel any different for it than for any other country. They say how does it matter where you’ve been born and brought up.

I’ll give a simple analogy (its an exaggeration, of course, but you should see the similarity). How do you feel towards your parents? Looking at it objectively, they invested some resources in you to raise you (just like your motherland); you’ve lived with them and inherited much from them in terms of culture, beliefs, values (just like your motherland); and you _do_ feel differently towards them than say towards other parents, don’t you? Then
why do you treat your country any differntly?

I would love to live in a society where there are no geo-political barriers, where we are all citizens of the world. However, the reality is that that day is no where close. For an innumerable number of reasons (some good, some bad) the world we live in continues to be divided. And its going to stay that way for a while.

**Why you //should// have some feelings for your motherland**

The fact remains that who who are and where you were born and how you were raised, //do// make an impact on your life, whether you want it or not. Throughout history, groups of people have been in clashes, inevitably.
Perhaps its just human nature. Whatever be the case, even today, we see nations in conflicts, there are still the opressed and the oppressors. If you were born in a country that was being invaded, just //randomly//, would it
help that none of the people of that country felt no feeling of nationalism?

What if no other country comes to help?

We live and breathe in a free world today, and we should be thankful for that. But not less than hundred years ago, things were very different. This independence didn’t come for free, it came at a cost. Sure, had you been born elsewhere, who knows how things might have turned out. But you were born //here//, and the life you led would have been *so* much different had you not enjoyed this freedom. Don’t you owe anything to the people who fought for this country and built it?

**Why you //could// have some feelings for your motherland**

Feeling pride for your country doesn’t mean you look down on others. I don’t
know how Mr. Manbiot concludes that a patriot British will choose a program
that lets 101 non-britishers die other a program that lets 100 britishers die.
Since when did patriotism imply non humanitarism?

Infact, I have often found that appreciating how my “motherland” has evolved
over the years has //increased// my appreciation of the struggles and the
triumphs and the tribulations of countries and cultures struggling elsewhere
(both in time and space).

Let me rewind a little bit. Let me ask you some questions: we always hear
about efforts to preserve and promote handicraft, aboriginal art, rare
forms of pottery or porcelain or even cheese making — what do you think
of these efforts? Why do we care about these things? What are “these
things”?

I’m guessing your answer would be something similar to “they are a part of
history, a part of the cultural heritage of some people and so it is
important that they be preserved”. When I was in middle school, I used to
hate history — it was so boring, so drab. But over the years I’ve come to
realize how interesting and fascinating history really is. And not just
for the factual content, but also for insights into the evolution of
civilizations.

Why is culture important? Why should we care what culture people had
before us? I’m not going to answer those questions. But I believe if you
sit down and think about it, you will come up with //some// reasonable
arguments. But how does all this relate to nationalism?

//If// I was living in the aforementioned utopian world, the notions of
nationalism that we are discussing here would simply not make sense.
Then we would all be part of the same culture, the same civilization,
share the same heritage and so on. However, that is not the case. The
fact remains that (and this is as true for individuals as it is for
countries) if we don’t assert our individuality, we start to lose our
identity.

True, if you moved around a lot, you might feel more a part of the “global”
citizenry than others, and you might not feel strongly about any one
particular country. And I think thats //perfectly fine//. Eventually
(hopefully) as boundaries dissolve, we will all merge in the global culture.
But its not happening yet.

I don’t know from where Mr. Manbiot got the notion that patriotism can be
interpreted as a kind of racism, and could encourage wars. While there are
certainly extremes in each ideology, I think “taking pride in my culture” and
“looking down upon other cultures” are two entirely different things. I
respect and admire other cultures as well (modulo the fact I don’t know most
of them as well as I do mine).

Finally, I’m not in favor of blind or false pride. That kind of disillusion
is never useful. No one is perfect. Be critical of your motherland, just like
you are of your parents. But if you find something that you believe in, that
you admire, that you care about, then be proud of it. Why not?

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