Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nationalism and Patriotism

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) said once, "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of the mind." I would add, it is a dangerous disease. The rise of nationalism in the post-Communist world and the war on terror is fearful and perhaps, fatal. Patriotism and natural love of one's country have transformed into feelings of superiority and xenophobia. Indeed, it is a fine line separating patriotism from nationalism. It is a spectrum that changes its colors due to the rules of physics and chemistry-- often undetected by the human eye until it is too late. Patriotism is healthy and is necessary for human flourishing. John F. Kennedy's words calling people to do something for their country are the beginning-point of building a humane society. A person who does not love her country cannot cherish it and cannot contribute to it positively. People who drink the blood of their country without caring for it are parasites and vampires. But every human being must be cognizant of the fine line separating patriotism from nationalism and when they approach that line in the fray of the moment, should sober up and stop. Patriotism should not turn into a blind form of obsession over one's superiority or fear/distrust of others-- nationalism. That is the worst and most fatal mistake that humans can make because all other problems follow from that. Today the rise of nationalism has translated into virulent fundamentalism of all shapes and all forms and everywhere in the world. Discrimination of minorities-- racial, ethnic, national has become sharper even in Western liberal societies. And there is no end to the 'war on terror' because it is really shaped and inflamed by nationalism.

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