Category Archives: Nationalism

I Am Not A Nationalist – Part 2

flags

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
― Rudyard Kipling

Nationalism is never humble. Like a mob, it has no real conscience. Only the individual has a conscience, and even then you have to fight for it.

Nationalism tells us that we are better than everyone else. We should be proud of our glorious empire. We are morally superior. It is especially insidious because it starts out by just making us feel good about ourselves. Celebratory, and unified with one another. It creeps in unrecognized. But countless horrors have been its product.

It is still incredible to me how many Americans will look you straight in the eye, and justify the “unintended” drone bombing of children in Yemen. Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. They will do this while sitting in church. They won’t even realize that they believe we are superior to others. Oh, it might make them uncomfortable, but they will tell themselves what the government and media have been telling them for years; “They hate us for our freedom. They want to kill us. We’re keeping ourselves safe. The world needs us.” They will feel a slight disgust with the few people that have contrary views. I know it, because once I was them.

We could all use a little enlightenment now and then.

Individuals, you know, are the real sung and unsung heroes of the past. Take the Jewish holocaust for example. You’ve heard the names… Oskar Schindler, Corrie Ten Boom, Raoul Wallenberg, Irena Sendler. A multitude of others that we’ll never know. They hid Jews in their homes, they forged passports, they did all manner of things that put their own lives, and the lives of their families at risk. Because they weren’t superior, they cared. They exercised conscience instead of stifling it. Maintained humility. I bet they felt alone, and scared. What were the majority of other people doing at the same time?  Sieg Heil.

I’ve heard Niemoller’s quote so many times, that it has almost lost meaning. Inevitably it is shared by those who are waiting for some “obvious” conflict that they’ll need to resist. You know, like a train full of humans going down the track to that place with the smoke coming out. Because of course they would never let that happen. But it never starts out that way. Then, as always, it started out much less obviously to most. I think it started with a little celebratory flag waving.

I Am Not A Nationalist – Part 1

nationalism

In response to an article shared with me today, I happened to mention to a friend that I am not a huge fan of Memorial Day. Our brief conversation birthed this blog entry.

I have started to detest flag waving. It seems like such a harmless little thing, but to me it is a representation of how completely indoctrinated we all are. Every spring my town holds an armed services torchlight parade. I have traditionally always gone to the parade with my family. This year I just couldn’t do it. You stand and clap when the various branches go by, the veterans of foreign wars, etc. But the family members of recently fallen also go by, with their big memorial pictures of loved ones – mostly very young – that they have lost.

And that group just keeps getting bigger.

I was really impacted, last year, by how big that group was. And while they were walking by, I was thinking that those young servicemen/women are always told they are “fighting for their country,” and how we are told – and tell ourselves – that they are “fighting for our freedom.” And it’s all a load of crap. If they were, actually, fighting for their country, then the fact that we have not gone to war constitutionally since WWII, would matter. The fact that war has been a huge tool to expand the already out-of-control executive branch, would matter. The usurpation of rights, and the heavy hand of government that falls ever harder while they are deployed, would matter.

If military personnel were fighting these many wars for our freedom, then there should be more freedom! Not so much less! It’s not the case. I wonder, do they know? Do they care that each conflict that takes their lives, also subverts our own rule of law? Maybe they are figuring it out, and that’s part of why the suicide rate amongst returning military is scandalous. That and the fact that nobody wants to think about their potential troubles once they are home, parades or no. Many are loved though, and so nobody wants to say the truth: most of them are dying for nothing good. Fodder for our increasingly careless government. I will grieve for them in my heart, but don’t ask me to wave a flag with the crowd. There is nothing here to celebrate.