Enough has been said, of-late, as to who a patriot is, which of us are nationalists and who are the anti-nationals. This post is a frustrated response to the very many debates I cannot afford to engage on social networks. So, for the ones who bother to debate with me, here is my stance on the entire issue — not just the one which has happened in the last two weeks involving Rohit Vemula, from University of Hyderabad and Kanhaiya Kumar, from Jawaharlal Nehru University — but in general, my stand on whether or not I want to be branded a nationalist by anyone.
Borders are scars
I am an idealist. When I say that national borders are the worst scars on the face of the Earth, I earnestly mean it, and long for a world with no borders. I know of several, well-meaning human beings who might not distinguish people based on religion, caste or creed, but stop at the divide of a nation. Why stop there? Like the earlier mentioned factors, nations are also man-made constructs, and there is nothing natural in dividing people based on nationalities. Yes, nationality is a useful marker based on the shared history and culture a group of people have, but that does not make it any more rational to divide people based on nationalities, than one could based on race or religion (well, if you think it is okay to divide people based on race or religion, I am not addressing you). Also, I am not being naive here, and I understand the convoluted complications of global geo-politics. But at a personal level, I don’t think we ought to take into consideration the exchange value of our currencies or the diplomatic policies, to think nicely of people from other countries.
To make my point more concrete, let me add that, anything that makes us think of people in terms of ‘us and them’ is harmful to humanity. And I also believe that a mindset transcending this divide is not difficult to attain; it certainly is not Utopian. When I come to think of it, this philosophy of mine, is an endorsement of one of the core beliefs of Hinduism — “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” — meaning, the world is a family. Why is it, then for the self-proclaimed pious Hindus, hard to see the world as one family? If all world is one family, why this venomous propaganda based on nationalism?
Also, when you come to think of the world on the lines of oneness, beyond all differences, it is easier to then spot the factors that are being used by the ruling class to divide the people. The bickering amongst people is the main fuel that enables the ruling class, which thrives on pitting communities against each other, to push their agendas. Needless to say, not only this is detrimental to the societies we inhabit, but it also reflects poorly on one’s intellectual abilities, if he/she chooses to become subservient to the rhetoric of divisive politics.
This being my stance on nationalities and nationalism, I am least offended or upset, but only amused when people are throwing labels such as “anti-nationals”, and more so, for the slightest of the difference of opinions.
Empathy above all
To be able to see the suffering of another person, or a community, and to wish for more of it instantly makes us inhuman. Whatever the rationale or the grand reasoning it might be, lack of empathy is unjustifiable. There is no point in bragging about your nationalism, when at the core, you lack empathy towards fellow human beings.
Patriotism is an over-sold idea and nationalism is corruptible. I’d say, simply stick to being nice to others.