Sunday, September 03, 2017

On Service

We have all been part of it: the veneration of the uniform. For anyone who denies that there is a national religion - and it is not Christian - one merely needs to attend any sporting event and witness the national anthem being played.

I have a friend at work who who is from Brazil and she told me that when her mother was up from Brazil, she was confused as to why there were so many American flags hanging everywhere. "Don't these people know what country they are in?" she asked her daughter.

It is difficult to even discuss the issue of nationalism and patriotism in a post-911 world. But it is also important to recall that the Nazi party was a nationalist party. This is not to denigrate pride in one's own country. This recent World Cup - head butting drivel aside - reminds us, like the Olympics that we can love our homeland but still love the spirit of togetherness such an event fosters.

Nationalism is nothing if not the basal instincts of human tribalism at work. The same sort of raw brutal tribalism that resulted in genocides in Rwanda and Darfur is the same tribalism that resulted in the essential elimination of the American Indian, the Serb-Croat conflicts of the eighties and so on.

I know many people blame religion for much of the conflict of the middle east, but really that is just a form of "spiritual triablism". My god/nation is better than yours - I belong, you don't. I am one of them sneetches with "stars upon thars" as Dr. Seuss would express it.

From an evolutionary view, this sort of behavior makes perfect sense. It is how early humans survived. Belonging to the group was the best way to pool resources and meet the basic Maslowic needs of food, shelter and a sense of safety. It is behavior that is exhibited and intensified in prisons throughout America. Join some sort of gang or be fodder for the other gangs.

But nationalism can obscure the truth sometimes. it wants to exclude, in fact NEEDS to exclude others. There are many in Washington who hate the notion of a U.N. because it's very existence negates this notion of social Darwinism that says the strongest climb to the top of the heap. The U.N. in its ideal form represents a different model of thinking that threatens the capitalist view that the golden rule is the best way to separate the wheat from the chaff - that is those that have the gold, make the rules.


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