Fourth Official Blog Post in AU. 15 August 2011
I must warn you that in this present moment I feel like writing about this subject may be a bit premature. Perhaps this will be the preliminary post before I publish a more thoroughly thought through version in the coming week or so. My creative inclination to write is bubbling over today which is why I have decided to proceed on the subject matter anyways. Here goes...
Every day I study and discuss nation states and the issues each one contains: war, genocide, human rights abuse, child soldiers, the concept of government approved torture, poverty, hunger, AIDS, malaria, water conditions, land ownership, colonialism, racism, religious divide; the list seems endless.
We also analyse how to resolve these problems. What are human rights? How do we solve the issue of poverty? How do we understand the psychology of human beings and their use of aggression versus choosing a more peaceful approach? Is war the best method to deal with conflicts between nations? Are the institutions we have set up to preserve human rights and peace even effective? What needs to change so that the world can finally change for the better?
All of these issues and questions can be so... ridiculous at times. Today I was involved in a discussion about global currency and a global community. The professor quixotically stated that these reforms would be the resolution to the lack of equality in the world. My classmates and I were far too practical for such a suggestion. We then asked her whether that would mean the end of national borders, etc. As the conversation continued, I began to add up how much the concept of nationalism has to do with our problems.
na·tion·al·ism /ˈnæʃənlˌɪzəm, ˈnæʃnəˌlɪz-/ Show Spelled[nash-uh-nl-iz-uhm, nash-nuh-liz-]
1. national spirit or aspirations.
2. devotion and loyalty to one's own nation; patriotism.
3. excessive patriotism; chauvinism.
4. the desire for national advancement or independence.
5. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation, viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.
Now I am not saying I am in support of a global community, global currency or anything like that. While I will not be surprised if it happens eventually, I don't see it as a realistic possibility until all nations come to a near balance economically as separate societies first. (I just had to get that out of the way...)
My uneasiness with nationalism has gradually surfaced more and more as I've grown up. As mentioned several times over the course of this blog's existence, being of mixed cultural heritage has always made it difficult to have a sense of loyalty to solely one place/nation/cultural group. Now that I am living abroad in an incredibly diverse city, I come face to face with the influence of nationalism around every corner.
Introductory conversations here tend to begin by asking, "What's your background?" In other words, what is your ethnic background and nationality? I cannot help but notice how often I have been placed under certain assumptions because of the fact that I am Indian, Filipino, and American. Suddenly, I am expected to know all of this Asian history I was never taught and live up to all the stereotypes of being American.
What makes me feel most disconcerted is when people bring up negative aspects of the United States, mostly in relation to its political actions. The struggle begins somewhere inside because I wonder if I am supposed to defend the U.S. since it is where I was born and raised. I don't know how to feel about the fact that I have no inclination to defend it. What am I supposed to say? Do I say they are wrong when I know they are not? I cannot pretend like I have this deep inset conviction that the United States is the greatest nation on earth. Please, do not mistake me for being anti-American or some sort of extremist. I simply don't feel that way about any nation on earth nor do I believe I ever will (perhaps the quote in my blog heading relates to this).
What I am trying to say is that, I think that has always been our problem. We pick teams and make assumptions based on the flag we bear instead of knowing each other as individuals. I don't want to be looked at and identified as a certain kind of person because of deep rooted life circumstances I had absolutely no role in determining! I did not choose to be Indian and Filipino nor did I choose to be born in the United States of America! All of these aspects are things I am extremely grateful for, but they are not a part of me because I have chosen them. I think being mixed and being raised in a family that embraces people from every nation has opened my mind to simply embrace people with all types of cultural backgrounds because they are people and that fact comes before the place they come from.
Ultimately, I want to be known for the good character I am constantly seeking to establish in the strength of Jesus Christ. I want to be known for love and faithfulness; for patience and service toward others. I want to be known for walking in wisdom and being a good steward of what life has placed in my care. That is the same way I see and seek to know others by.