As human beings, it’s only natural that we define ourselves through groups. Where we work, where we live, the people we call family, all shape our perception on who we are. It’s not surprising we’re like this either. Our ancestors spent upwards of 200,000 years living in small tightly knit communities known as tribes or clans. Your tribe was your life and you were proud to be part of the group. Back then, like today, conflicts arose and warring tribes clashed often fighting to the death. As time went on these tribes grew into villages, villages grew into cities, into states, into countries—Point being these associative bodies of humanity that we tag our identities have been growing since their conception and continue to do so today. Thanks to globalization, the world is connected in ways never thought possible and yet we still cling fiercely to this ancient notion of group pride. Us and them. My team, their team. Allies and the Enemy. Same as before only now the stakes are much higher. Gone are the days of arrows and spears. We have big bombs now. With globally devastating events like nuclear war and bio-chemical warfare lurking in the background I can’t help but wonder: Are these notions of group pride still useful? Does our blind patriotism actually help us?
Question: Who does your nationalism benefit?
Recently I’ve been semi-obsessed with our military involvement in the middle East. Who are these terrorists and why do they want to attack us so badly? And I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that “because they hate our freedom” bullshit. People just don’t strap bombs to themselves for nothing. And how could various tribes of nomadic goat herders, who have been living the same way for thousands of years, just up and all-of-a-sudden hate a country that lies across an ocean? Is it possible (despite our undying awesomeness and high ideals) that somewhere down the line we might have tinkered in their affairs in ways we shouldn’t have?
The short answer is, “Yes.” (Read Power, Faith, and Fantasy by Michael B Oren or Confessions of An Economic Hitman by John Perkins if you don’t believe me.) Yup, our great nation has absolutely interfered with many countries’ politics solely for our own economic gain. We have aided in instilling brutal regimes into other countries just to keep foreign populations from organizing around their own natural resources so we might more directly control the trade. This isn’t wild conspiracy Youtube video stuff either. It’s history. Not the cherry-choppin’ good times history we learned in school, but factual events nonetheless.
My argument is this: We could all benefit a great deal by abandoning our antiquated notions of blind patriotism and nationalism and thinking more in terms of a multidimensional global perspective.
When you see the US bombing natural gas pipelines in Yemen don’t think for a second that just because it’s happening there that it won’t effect you here. The threat of nuclear war is real. Countries that are bitter towards one another have the capability of blowing each other off the map. Also, by their very nature, conflicts tend to escalate. I can’t help but think we’re just bombing our way towards bigger bombs in the future. Perhaps we should regroup and think of something else. Perhaps even…offer an apology. (Sorry to any eagles who may have dropped dead out of the sky because of that last statement.) I’m aware apologizing sounds incredibly idealistic and naive, but is it any different to think we can get people to stop hating our country by bombing them? If anything we’re just doing the terrorists’s recruitment work for them.
An Example Of One-Dimensional Thought
I really do love this country. I’ve traveled enough to know that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Plus, I also don’t believe that our leaders are being evil strictly for the sake of some crazy world domination agenda. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of so few ultimately being able to control billions of people. It would never work. And if you want to espouse those crazy anti-fantasies go ahead. Just know that you’re not helping anything or doing anything constructive. You’re merely on the opposite side of the short shortsightedness spectrum. Picture a see saw. You on one end, the undying Christian patriot on the other—both balanced perfectly with your feet dangling off the ground.
The problem isn’t a vast global conspiracy as much as it one of accountability and natural human momentum. I mean who wants to be the politician who comes out and says, “Look, we screwed up. Alright?” We’ve been jamming our feet down on the gas for a while now and I think it’s time to regroup.
You can love your country and also hold it accountable.
Look at America like it’s your kid. If you constantly talk it up while brushing any wrong-doings under the rug, it’s going to grow up to be a total bastard. Kicking and biting all of the other kids in the recess yard. It’s high time we began to participate in the world around us instead of locking ourselves away in the castle. It’ll take some time, but I sincerely believe we could repair America’s global image with nothing more than sincere dialogue and a scaling back of the thousand headed monster that has become the current military industrial complex. One bomb at at time. We get rid of one as you get rid of one. Nice and easy. This whole notion of “good guys” and “bad guys” may make for an awesome Bond film, but foreign policy? Eh, not so much.