Monday, January 09, 2006

Patriotism - What is it?

A lot of times I have wondered about the answer to this question . I have had a lot of arguments with some of my friends about this topic. Some of them believed that Patriotism very much exists while others just thought it was nothing but bull shit.

Is patriotism all about just singing your national anthem, and supporting your country in sports?

What exactly is the definition of this word?

Wikipedia defines it as this:

Patriotism denotes positive attitudes by a individuals to their own nation, to its national homeland, its culture, its members, and to its interests. The word is derived from the Latin patria, fatherland, which has a much broader meaning than a geographical territory.

Dictionary definition of a nation is something along the lines of "love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it"

So as we see, both these definitions involve the concept of a "Nation"...

Now my doubt in the definition of Patriotism first lies in the definition of Nation.

Wiki says here that:

One of the most influential doctrines in history is that all humans are divided into groups called nations. It is an ethical and philosophical doctrine in itself, and is the starting point for the ideology of nationalism. The nationals (the members of the "nation") are distinguished by a common identity, and almost always by a common origin, in the sense of ancestry, parentage or descent. The national identity refers both to the distinguishing features of the group, and to the individual’s sense of belonging to it. A very wide range of criteria is used, with very different application. Small differences in pronunciation may be enough to categorise someone as a member of another nation. On the other hand, two people may be separated by difference in personalities, belief systems, geographical locations, time and even spoken language, yet regard themselves and be seen by others, as members of the same nation. Nationals are considered to share certain traits and norms of behaviour, certain duties toward other members, and certain responsibilities for the actions of the members of the same nation.

So we see that there is a mention of a "Common Link" among the members of a nation. Now I can understand this quite easily if I am a citizen of a country that is as small as , lets say Iceland.

On the lighter side, My great grandfather was perhaps a viking and viking blood might in fact flow in me as well .

But what if I am the citizen of USA or India for that matter. The whole country is made up of so many different cultures, so many different people and so many different languages that the above definition would surely not encompass such nations. A tamilian is ENTIRELY different in his way of life and looks and language from an Assamese. No way are they related.

So my question is this, "Does it really make sense to call the Tamilian and an Assamese as belonging to the same nation"?

I donot want to hurt any sentiments by asking these questions, but it is just that I am personally not convinced about the fact, that someone somewhere decided "Ok, so let us take this geographical mass , and call it a country"...and Lo , we have India.

If such diversity could still call itself one nation, then why not we include the whole world into one spectrum and be done with a world Nation.

Atleast some Indians could say they are related by the Indus Valley civilisation and that they all have some kind of a common ancestry. But what of the USA. They have Red Indians who are their actual natives. They have Great grandsons and daughters of British settlers, African slaves labourers, Chinese merchants, Indian Software programmers and what not?

Now does it even make sense to call such a diverse mix as having anything in common? They dont even have a common ancestry for that matter.

The greatest comedy about the whole thing is that a huge mass in this world goes about their daily duties without even perhaps realizing that they have a false identity. When someone says "I am a citizen of such and such country", does he realize that that piece of land has until now seen atleast a 1000 different rulers, and a 1000 different languages and cultures since the time Man was born.

Let us take India for example:

If we say common ancestry as the unifying factor, then we ought to have Pakistan United with us...should we not? Why then do many of us have an ill feeling towards them?

In an England Pakistan match, why do we rather feel better if England wins? That is the saddest thing that could ever take place. England has dominated us and has ruled us for centuries just because they were technologically more advanced, and we want England to win a cricket match than Pakistan. (Although a cricket match in no way defines patriotism, but it is all these small things together which perhaps goes to define the big picture).

Another question is, Who has the right to define the borders of a country? Also why should I listen or obey to some rules that were set God knows how long ago and are still being followed.

Ask me , and I would break down all barriers in the world and opt for a world economy. One where we are just a human country.

I do know if what I say may be feasible in a practical sense, but I think it is high time one gave a thought about these things.

Donot just assume that you are a country member just because someone told you so or because you were born in a piece of land whose borders were drawn some 100 years before you even opened your eyes for the first time. Question those who have drawn the border and ask why that is so....