The Burden of Patriotism
Patriotism is defined as a devoted love of one's country, many people feel "patriotic" when they wave American flags on the Fourth of July but, it should be understood that patriotism is something that is not limited to America's border. Most countries have a strong sense of patriotism and each of these countries see themselves in some way superior to the rest of the world. So one might ask, what's wrong with patriotism, isn't it a good thing? Well to answer that I would have to use a quote from Guy de Maupassant, "Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched." To that many would say de Maupassant is not describing patriotism but nationalism explaining that patriotism is the love of a country because of its values it represents and nationalism is the belief that one's culture or nationality is superior to the rest of the world. But the love of a country or culture because of its values breeds a sense of superiority which breeds war. After all Albert Einstein once said, "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."
To prove my point I will use examples in modern history. The most recent being Al-Qaeda's attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers in New York on September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda, more specifically Osama Bin Laden, believed that it was unholy that U.S. troops were in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and believed Americans were trying to take over the Islamic Holy Land. Because his followers believed that their values of Islam were superior to the rest of Islam and other religions, they saw the Americans in the World Trade center as evil Americans and not as simple human being who had wives and children much like the followers of Bin-Laden. Another example would be the Japanese bombings of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In Japan a strong sense of nationalism was growing and thus justified its rapidly expanding conquest throughout East Asia. Because the Japanese people, generally speaking, believed they were superior to the rest of the world they adamantly followed their governments order to bomb Pearl Harbor and start a war with America. Had the Japanese soldiers and pilots seen the American as simple human beings much like themselves a war would have never started. This same principle could be applied to Hitler's followers in Germany. To further prove my point I must ask the question. In most countries it is illegally to end the life of another human being, but why is it acceptable to kill another human being that simply lives in another country in the name of war? This same thought is explained in of Blaise Pascal's Quote, "Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?"
Our species unity and end of meaningless bloodshed would allow us to rapidly advance towards the future. To help explain this we must understand our meaningless when we are divided. Earth is but a tiny island floating in a vast dark ocean spotted with billions of stars. In the same context how could any tiny, inhabited island in the middle of a vast ocean on Earth ever be successful if they were divided? We should respect our individual cultural history and beliefs but we should not use them to justify our superiority over the rest of the world. We as humans should join together as a species to explore our technological possibilities and ultimately our future.
Trevor A Hurst