Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Patriotism

Let me start by saying that I've never particularly admired patriotism or flag-waving.

I blame religious/national/racial patriotism for all the wars & misery that ever existed in the history of humanity. I think of it simply as an extension of basic human selfishness & nepotism. Am greedy & prejudiced in favor of myself so by extension am greedy & prejudiced in favor of people who are like me in race/belief/geography/culture etc...And this kind of loyalty doesn't seem to me to be as noble & admirable as all the national anthems & war poems say. What I respect is loyalty to principle, a sense of what is just, a code of ethics, doing unto others as you would be done by.

Call me a hippie. I believe in the universal brotherhood of Man & human rights & in world peace. I believe we live on the same planet, we have the same needs & what we need to concentrate on is how to make the best of its resources in the manner that best benefits us all - not to annihilate it & destory ourselves in the eternal quest to grab as much power & resources & glory for our various clans/tribes/sects.Essentially we are destorying the species & the environment while happily waving our flags & singing our stirring patriotic songs.I'm sorry I see nothing noble or brave about that. It's just sad & futile & tragic.

When someone says they are proud of their country I always wonder what they mean?What is there to be proud about?You were born in that country or culture. It's not like you had any choice.Pride should be in something you worked for & achieved yourself.

Finally, I do wish that I could get rid of this tendency to feel ashamed & embarrassed when people from my country misbehave. I consider this a great weakness & I don't know why it happens.

First of all, I come from a very mixed cultural & religious background. Both my parents are half-caste which gives me roots in 4 different countries. Now it's a GREAT burden to have to feel embarrassed on behalf of that many cultural groups. It means you are practically never free of shame. One would have expected that this background would have freed me instead of restricting me more.

Also I have never actually lived in any of these 4 countries. I grew up in UAE which is a very cosmopolitan country. I had friends, neighbors etc...from all over the world. In my family we don't even care about nationality or religion when it comes to marriage so I have in-laws & relatives from all over the place.

So again why I do I have to apologize on behalf of people in places I've only ever visited as a tourist?

The worst part is when they do something good I don't feel particularly proud. I don't feel the connection. So patriotism - a sentiment I have never respected - HAS rubbed off on me against my will. And it managed to do so only in the negative sense.

I MUST work harder to rise above this.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Mohamed said...

I guess its because of your all-over-the-place background, and this loss of connection that makes you feel as such about patriotism. How closely knit a family are you? You seem pretty close. So can you apply that patroitism definition on your relation with your family. Would it make sense then? If so, think of those who are patriotic as those who think of their country/tribe/etc. as their larger extended family.

6/29/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Hope no one takes this the wrong way. No offence meant. This was just my personal take on things. And I was probably not in the greatest mood in the world this morning so I might have expressed myself a bit too strongly.

"So can you apply that patroitism definition on your relation with your family."

Yes we are a close-knit family. And it's not just my family. I consider my friends brothers & sisters too. But these are personal relationships.

Let me ask you a question. Who is more 'family' to me?A friend I grew up with who has always been there for me who happens to be from another country or some stranger walking in the streets of Casablanca? Isn't it just an accident of birth that I was born in Casablanca & my father is half Morrocan & I hold a Morrocan passport?

6/29/2005 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mohamed said...

No offence ya Loulou. I'm just trying to relate patriotism to you. For many, next, after your family and friends, comes your country --maybe (and that would be patriotism).

In your case, you are right, why would you be patriotic to Morroco. No obvious reason to me, except maybe that Casablanca is a really cool place :)

6/29/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Mohamed,

Am so happy you didn't ask me if I was born in the city or the movie. I was getting so tired of that particular witticism.
Have you been to Casablanca?It's awesome.But then so is Istanbul. And I thought Cairo was pretty cool too. The thing is it's a big world out there no?
My uncle is always complaining that I have no roots & everytime I hear that I think well that's because am not a tree!See God created trees with roots but humans are more mobile.If he'd wanted us to stay put he'd have made us grow 6 ft underground wouldn't he?
Everytime I hear someone say they feel like a fish out of water when they leave their hometown I find myself thinking el7amdullilah ana mish zay elsamaka ana zay eltair....:)

6/29/2005 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mohamed said...

I think I'm one of those fish. Or I could be a bird too, one of those that keep migrating (or wants to) between the north and the south with different seasons.

You are certainly not a tree, and its not about being stuck in one place, but its about a sense of belonging, methinks. Its fine that you don't have it, I'm just explaining.

6/30/2005 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

A sense of belonging doesn't sound too bad if it doesn't tie you down. And if - again no offence - it doesn't cause you to lower your moral standards when a moral wrong is committed by your country.

When I talk to Sudanese people about Darfur, those of them who are of Arab origin feel compelled to defend what amounts to ethnic cleansing because it's being done by Arab tribes. And I have yet to meet an Arab nationalist who's willing to admit that Saddam shouldn't have gassed the Kurds & the Iranians & that they might just have a point when they complain about the way Arabs treat them.

See that's what I mean when I say a true patriot has no real moral standards of his own. He cannot admit that his country/cultural group might have committed wrong or infringed on other people's rights. His only standard is to defend whatever the group does - even if he wasn't consulted about it or it wasn't his decision.

I always thought religious fanaticism was just a religious version of patriotism. Like when I read you guys about how Islamists in Egypt are not always quite positive on the rights of the Christian minority etc...That seems to me a perfect example. A religious Muslim patriot thinking Muslims have more rights than Christians.

Now imagine all the different countries & groups in the world with all their conflicting patriotisms & it gives you an idea why war has always been part of the human condition.

So that is my second gripe against patriotism - its ability to sometimes turn perfectly pleasant ordinary people who wouldn't normally hurt a fly into cold-blooded fascists when you question their country or tribe's policies.That scares me.

6/30/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Actually, if you defend a moral wrong by your country than you're not patriotic.

"His only standard is to defend whatever the group does - even if he wasn't consulted about it or it wasn't his decision." -- I disagree, maybe that's how we've turned it into (especially considering that there is no democracy), but it shouldn't be that way.

6/30/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Fair enough Mohamed. Patriotism that is not expected of me & that doesn't interfere with moral values that I think should be common to all humans I have no problem with.

I only wish more 'patriots' saw it your way.

7/01/2005 03:32:00 AM  

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