Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are Nationalities Obsolete?

When looking at the stories of world events, it is impossible not to notice the role nationalism plays in violence.

For example, the stories of the arrest of the Serbian leaders wanted for the genocide in Croatia in the 1990s. Also the conflict in Albania & Macedonia. Tibet/China. Afghanistan/Pakistan border (Tribal leaders) The genocide in Rwanda (Tutsi & Hutu). Sri Lanka (Tamil). Sudan/Darfur. Ethiopia/Somalia. Turkey/Iraq (Kurds). Look at any place where there are wars or serious unrest around the world, and you will find disputes that have something to do with nationalities and ethnic groups.

Even today in a peaceful and prosperous country like Belgium, there are people advocating the separation of land between the people of Flemish descent and people of French descent. There is also unrest among the Roma people in Bulgaria and Italy.

All of us have probably enjoyed the pleasure of attending various ethnic festivals at one time or another, and enjoyed discovering different foods, music, and folk customs. This is part of what makes our experience of this world an interesting place. It is the biggest reason why people go on vacation to different countries.

So what is wrong with this picture? Maybe economics. Look at it this way. Right now there is a lot of unrest in parts of th U.S. about the rapidly increasing number of Latin American immigrants in this country. It was not as much of an issue when our economy was strong but now that so many people have lost their jobs and have trouble finding other jobs, when they see newly arrived immigrants willing to work for less, there is a feeling that this makes it hard for them to make a decent living.

At the root there is some element of this in all these other struggles. Although nationalistic or ethnic pride may be invoked when rallying people to a cause, at the root will probably be either a sense of economic injustice or the other group is wanting to take over another country or territory in order to gain an economic advantage.

One of the great strengths of America has been that as various people have come here, eventually there is a great deal of intermarriage so that the traditional ethnic groups gradually become interwoven with other ethnic groups and nationalities. People still want to come here more than any other place in the world for the economic opportunities and personal freedoms they can find here.

Perhaps it is time for identification with nationality and ethnic groups to become obsolete. We should acknowledge these roots as part of history and heritage and evolution. It would appear that our larger identification as humans who live on this planet would encourage more cooperation, and acting from love, rather than fear.

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