Sunday, October 24, 2004
To die for...
Both pride and devotion are manifestations of our emotional selves and therefore, to be patriotic, we need to identify with the idea of a nation beyond the political boundaries that demarcate it. Myriad factors could contribute to this identification, but chief among these is, perhaps, a cultural commonality comprising language, religion and general ways of life which has stemmed from a shared historical memory. And very importantly, a measure of the strength of a culture is how absorptive it is of the inherent differences in it, in addition to being emphatic about its commonalities.
Two discerning aspects of this cultural commonality are that, for one, such a commonality is constantly in a state of flux, being redefined in a matter of decades; its underlying differences in continuous struggle with its commonality. Secondly, the strength of and belief in this commonality obscures a broad, rational, even humane, understanding of and respect for what lies outside. Both these factors are primarily responsible, at an emotional level beyond social, political and economic reasons, for the numerous wars that we have fought and for the fact that one country's terrorist is another's patriot and freedom fighter.
Historically, though not conceptually, patriotic fervour has claimed, and continues to claim, far too many lives.
I think that respect for and justice to human life should supersede patriotism.
It will also make history exams easier to pass.