Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Of Nations and Patriotism

What people often call patriotism is in my opinion, a wasted feeling. It's probably as wasted as religious fanaticism. Patriotism is based no boundaries, rules, books (read constitution) written over decades or centuries ago. Rules, you had no control upon. Rules most people of the country know nothing about and worse yet understand nothing of. Rules that were made for the year and day they were written and are obsolete. Borders that were drawn based on loose political ideas.

When you say 'Great India' do you refer to the India that's drawn by India? Or by China? (which doesn’t represent some areas of India that India call's its states) Or that based on the International LOC? (which chops off portions of India/Pakistan on however you see it, and confused represents it as a shaded area – PoK)

Why is Alaska a part of United States of America? Why isn’t the rest of Canada? And why is no other country/state from South 'America' not a part of 'United States' of America? Doesn’t all that sound like one big mess? How about Common Wealth? Why would a country like Fiji, so far away in the Pacific – be ruled-over by the 'Royal' family in Northern Europe?

The answer is – that was what was politically 'acquired' or logically concluded by a few people who were supposed to be 'ruling'. Don’t get me wrong. There were thousands upon thousands of lives lost, still many more lives dedicated to establish/retain those lands – but all at the whims and fancies of the 'ruling'.

One's nationality is a throw of dice. It's not a choice, but something one is born into. And at one point, a few made it up. Then onwards others were born 'into' it. There never was a U.S.A till the late 1700s. Natives living in the Americas were never fond of NFL or NBA, nor did they play Ice Hockey. But, there still were tribes. Algonquin, Cherokee, Hopi etc. India had tribes too. USA calls those who still remain as 'aboriginals' or 'Natives'. India calls them 'Adivasis' (read Original People). So, most those who are 'Proud of America' never belonged to 'America'. Most of those who say 'I Love India' never belonged to 'India'.

People have been moving across the land and overseas for ever. All animals do so. That is nature's way of ensuring dispersion. Plants have dispersion mechanisms too. It's nature's way of 'experimenting' the mutations/variations. Some who migrate to a new place, may not survive because they cannot adapt. Most of the seeds that land from a plant in water would not survive. But, some do. Like probably the first few of the monkeys who wandered into colder areas of what we now call 'China'. Only those that were 'awkward' and were 'hairy' survived the cold. And eventually became this:

And anyway all the terrestrial life, plants and animals, evolved from once marine life that was 'awkward' or 'unique' and whose ancestors decided to live on the land and were actually capable of doing so.

The point is that migration is a very natural thing. Picking up some specific traits always helps in adapting to the new circumstances. Those are the natural traits of individual species.

And then there is culture. Culture is an artificial trait, unique to humans (and some other social creatures like ants and bees) but mostly all other animals are individualistic. Social behavior was evolved by different species at different phases of evolution. First primitive components like cell nucleus, mitochondria, RNA all decided to live under one other component – the cell membrane. And then cells decided to group together to perform different functions, like stinging cells in Hydra – one of the most primitive known multi cellular organisms. Yet more evolved species, specially mammal and birds, have the tendency to live in packs or herds or flocks or parliament or whatever we may call it. Bees and Ants in tightly regulated social communities – so much so that they're sometimes considered super-organisms, as in the entire community behaves as if it's one single 'being'.

The same behavior extended to humans. Tribes, Kingdoms, Czardoms were formed. Ideas were the same – regulation, division of labor, one point of control. But humans had also evolved more analytical abilities. They wanted more 'territory' than they had. More than what was sufficient or sometimes more territory as their community was growing in numbers. Wars ensued – actually they were always there, between herds, between tribes and between empires. Nations.

Some individuals tended to identify themselves as being unique and not part of the 'empire'. They were called rebels. They were outcast or executed - they were a threat to the 'community'. And then there were those who were 'rulers'. Soon, the community was no longer about the members of the community and was more about the ruler. Some rebels became 'leaders' themselves and dethroned the 'Kings' – and became 'Kings' themselves. And at some point people tended to think 'we don’t need kings, we can rule us ourselves' – then came democracy. But surprisingly, there is still a 'ruler' – a 'govern'ment.

So Nations still remained, only in a different flavor. In the dynastic era, the ruler were chosen by the family he was born into, even if many in a nation would not approve of him as their ruler. Rebels. In the Age of Conquerors, people had new ruler if their old 'ruler' and their 'army' were ineffective. They still had no say on who 'ruled' over them. In the Age of democracies, even if, say, 40% of the nation do not approve of a person to 'rule' over them – he could yet be their 'ruler'. One still doesn’t have a choice.

And these rulers and their team of generals decide what a country is. Some 'elders' at some point decided to adopt some 'traditions'. Which are now considered a part of a "Nation"'s heritage.

So, what's expected of individuals is to be photocopies of those 'elders'; to be photocopies of each other; to lose their individuality. If you insist on not being a photocopy, you're a rebel. You're 'not one of us'. One of the responsibilities of being a photocopy is that you 'respect' and 'love' the otherwise non-existent being called a Nation. And you have to 'hate' some other such 'Nations'. You have to keep the secrets of your 'Nation', however lame and pointless they may be. Nobody is allowed to ask why. Some Nations have stricter rules. Some are more lenient. Yet, effectively, you are supposed to belong to some Nation. Have some Nationality. Otherwise, you have no identity. Nobody knows where his/her ancestors originally came from and why. Nobody knows why the rules were framed thus, in the part of the world they live in. Yet, they are supposed to obey those rules. Yet, you are supposed to love your Nation.

If there is any entity that truly represents all humanity, it is the Planet – Earth. Mother India? Don’t know. Uncle Sam? Who's that? Mother Earth – please drop the word 'Mother' and yeah look around.

If there is one tradition that binds all the humans, that is life. Actually it binds all the living beings together - the struggle to survive. Our commitment, our ultimate purpose is to let life prosper. If ever there was God, it couldn't be much different from the living force. The sole urge of even simple DNA to replicate itself. Virus? Life!

Imagine if there were no nations, no countries. Imagine if all the energy we spend on 'arms and ammunition', on 'guns and missiles', on 'nuclear technology' – on all sorts of new ways of 'taking life' – imagine if all that energy were spent on letting life prosper. To let live and to live better. Imagine if we were in a compassionate world where life was valuable. Not just a human. Not just a kid. Every life. No wars. If there is suffering, the community would suffer as a whole. If there were prosperity, the community would prosper as a whole. A global community. That's what my loyalty is towards. I don’t love India, I don’t love the USA, neither do I subscribe to Hitler nor do I consider myself a part of Commonwealth. I am an individual, a human, a living being - on one thriving planet Earth.

Any association of me to a country/nation, religion, culture – is false and not an accurate representation of whom I am.

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