What is Nationalism?
Nationalism is defined as the exaltation of one nation above all others, giving it supreme loyalty. Indeed, differences in race, religion and social status have contributed to animosity; however, one of the greatest divisive factors of all is nationalism. It has proved to be more of a curse than a blessing to humanity."
Let us elaborate why this has been the case:
Nationalism divides humanity into mutually intolerant unites. As a result people think as nation first, and as human beings second-if at all.
So the failure to recognize people first as members of the human race has split the world into a host off opposing factions, the leaders of which claim that the paramount loyalty of subject peoples belongs to the state, “right or wrong.”
Sadly, this has made people to support wicked and corrupt leaders in the name of nationalism.
This has been true especially in our time, with frightful consequences.
The idea of nation first, “right or wrong,” has been directly responsible for intelligent and industrious people turning in mass to a state of mind that would put barbarians of ancient times to shame.
Genocide and mass murder have been tolerated in the name of nationalism, “for God and country.”
A tragic example of this was the degrading of many of the German People during the Hitler regime, all in the name of the “motherland.”
Thousands, yes, millions of intelligent people found themselves being used by Hitler to overrun other nations and bring great harm to millions of innocent men, women and children.
People of other nationalities died in wholesale numbers, many in horrendous death factories, to satisfy the lust for power of a few political rulers.
These fantastic crimes were condoned because they were done in the name of the nation, in this case the Third Reich.
It was not much different in Russia under Stalin or in Japan under their emperor. Even western allies wiped out thousands of innocent women and children in massive air bombings.
And all these things have been a direct result of putting their nation first, “right or wrong” and of putting humanity a very poor second, “if at all.”
Although these world wars ended, this conflict has thrust new challenges. Offshoot branches of secret service has flourished in this climate of mistrust, since fear is the very soul of the espionage business.
As a result, there is not a country on earth that believes it can manage without a secret service, all in the name of protecting its national interests.
Recent revelations by Edward Snowden a whistle-blower accused by the American government of espionage, shows how far governments are willing to go to spy on other countries and even on it's own citizens.
All this is done under the disguise of protecting the nation against terrorism.
Burns like wild fire
How powerful force nationalism is can be seen by the way it grinds underfoot any uniting forces and takes precedence over other factors that might work for the good all people.
For example, one might think that at least racial similarities could thwart nationalism and prevent it from running wild, but this rarely the case.
Being of the same race is of no help when nationalism is involved. This can be seen when whites kill whites or blacks kill blacks during wartime.
Even one’s social means nothing and is also crushed by nationalism. Whether is one wealthy or poor they are both united in killing others who's nationality differs from theirs.
Has religion been able to stem the tide nationalism?
In fact some religious groups are themselves strongly nationalistic. Their main goal is to capture political control of a country.
While many religious movements may not go so far, but, nevertheless, the various religions give their country their utmost support.
They subordinate their creeds to nationalistic creed, showing that the religion of nationalism is stronger than their own.
The all the immense power that nationalism exercise brings us to another fact that nationalism has become something far more than just a matter of loyalty to a nation, it has taken on a religious aspect.
The historian Carlton Hayes noted this, he said,
The rituals of modern nationalism is simpler than that of certain other great historic religions, probably because sufficient time has not yet elapsed for its elaboration, but, considering its youthfulness, it is already fairly well developed”
For example, in one country school students in many areas are asked to kneel down before the country’s flag and kiss it with their lips and repeat an oath of allegiance to it.
Although there is no actual law that requires this, it is practiced throughout that country.
School authorities usually demand it and say that the children cannot graduate unless they perform this act.
In many cases this has led to physical harm to those who do not to participate in such activities.
How greatly peace is desired by the masses of mankind! For centuries it has been longed for, but continues to be just dream. Hatred and Bloodshed continue to be harsh realities.
It is clear that nationalism has played a major role in thwarting man’s effort to achieve global peace, by poisoning the thinking of people towards their fellow humans.
How different things would be if we had world governments that dispensed nationalism to unite citizens of the world, not divide them.
But I think the big question is, can this be achieved? Do you have any ideas how it can be done?