Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Patriotism is not only ridiculous, but potentially downright dangerous.

Coincidentally, lions are really fucking dangerous too.
(Good thing they don't actually live in Britain, then.)
Look, I'll get to that education bit at some point, ok? For now something important has come up which I think needs addressing. So I will address it, and there's nothing you can do about it! Muahahahahahhaaa!

Well, unless you hack my account and do something about it yourself, or come to my house and force me to do something about it, or just outright kill me in one of the many imaginative ways humanity has murdered one another for the past few millennia...

Besides I don't really know why I apologise or make an explanation for not staying on track, from what I can tell I've lost what little audience I had anyways... *sniff*

Anyways, this is actually quite a serious topic (again I'm drifting closer and closer to a political-arsed blog... I'll write something about the British Juggling Convention or something after this to make sure that doesn't happen. Yes I did just pretty much confirm the education post will be postponed. Again.), and has come about due to a single event: the upcoming (for now... if your reading this afterwards, its pretty much completely pointless.) royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Now I'm sure many of us in Britain and elsewhere honestly couldn't give a flying shit about this wedding; its only a wedding after all, why does this need to be announced on the news alongside more important stuff like the ongoing Libyan civil war and other such significantly more important things?
I'm also in this "whatever" camp of things - I don't give a shit about the wedding (or the royal family in general for that matter), just like any other stupidly over-reported celebrity marriage.
However, I'm not here to blabber on about the wedding - I'm actually more concerned about the recent rise in patriotic symbolism here in England, as a direct result of the royal wedding. Everywhere I go these days there appears to be plates, cups, and other items stapled with the Union Flag (NOT Jack) in honour of the royal wedding. I'm going to assume at this point that the same flag will soon be draped across streets in cities and towns across Britain, if this hasn't already happened. This worries me in the same way that I felt incredibly uneasy about the massive number of American flags I saw in the USA and how bloody sensitive many American's were about the flapping piece of fabric. One man even threatened to assault me when I said I didn't care about the flag for pete sake!

Memorabilia mousepad - actually cause for serious concern.

In fact, that last sentence kinda says it all - threatening another man over a flag with some vague symbolism over it? Are you kidding me?
This is my biggest problem with patriotism - in the same way that religion can cause people to kill themselves and many others around them in the name of a deity, patriotism can cause such callous disregard for human life in the name of something that is truly petty and insignificant.
Take for example the common phrase "I will die for my country". As bad as this is, generally speaking it actually means "I will kill for my country".
Why? Why should one feel so attached to the ground they live on? Is it really worth committing that most tragic act, the removal of another person's life?

and thats exactly what makes me scared of you.
Before I go on I should point out that this particular post is more directed to my friends and associates living in the United States, easily the most patriotic of nations on the planet. While the whole royal wedding thing has increased the patriotism in this country slightly, I do not think that it will have any lasting effects over here, and the whole shenanigans will probably boil over after the happy couple are all wedded and whatnot. The USA, however, is possibly one of the only nations, and quite possibly the single major international power with such a strong and prevalent sense of love for one's country. And I, personally, think its a serious issue.
First of all, if you, dear reader, are patriotic, I want you to think hard, very hard, about why you love your country. Why should a patch of what is essentially just earth have sway over your feelings? Yes, that patch of land may be beautiful, and you may have lived on that patch of land for many years, but is it really worth sacrificing your life, and, more crucially, other people's lives over?
Thats the thing, honestly - people dying over tiny bits of land which, in the long run, are inconsequential and, in the short run, causes pain and mourning for the relatives and friends of those who have died fighting over said bits of land.
Is it really worth such sacrifice? Why is it worth such sacrifice? People have even invaded other people's countries in the name of patriotism for their own country (a fact that I find most ironic) - the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were primarily in order to 'protect' our own nations (and tooootally not to take their oil! Honest). Surely there's a better solution to the problem of terrorists than invading, killing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of innocent civilians, and in the process causing people to fight against us in the name of patriotism for their country, one of the primary reasons for our invasion in the first place?

Carl Sagan put it rather well, in his fantastic speech 'the pale blue dot': "Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot." Thats all that people are killing and dying for in the end - a fraction of a dot. Is a fraction of a dot really worth being patriotic over?

Instead, I urge you, mr/ms Patriot, to love people rather than nations. Love one another, not just of your own country but those of other nations as well. Cause in the end, whether we're British, American, Japanese or Stupid (some may say that they're all one and the same), we're all human at the end of the day. Fight, if you must, not to protect nations but to protect people. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are certainly not protecting people - they're simply killing lots of people while keeping the West (not so) safe from the very slim possibility of a terrorist attack.

...This post has gotten all too serious.


NYAN CAT TIEM!11!!!111

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  2. You totally misunderstand the concept of patriotism. The very foundation of your argument is flawed. A country is not a land mass...a country is people. If you truly understood America then you would realize that American patriotism is about "...of the people, for the people, and by the people". This nation is it's people. So when one says "Proud to be American" they are saying they are proud to be one of these people.

    It is also a patriotism built upon the liberty of the individual. It was this same patriotism that looked across the Ocean during WWII and said "we cannot allow the people of the UK to face such a threat to freedom alone". Without patriotism you might very well be under the thumb of an opressive dictator today.

    Of all the wars that the US has fought in Europe all we have ever asked is enough ground to bury our dead. We have not taken one drop of Iraqi oil.

    Patriotism is the key to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Dictators bring wars, patriots bring liberty. Millions of Iraqis are now free to determine their own destiny.

    Live in N. Korea for a year or so and you will be begging to live in a land that is patriotic.

  3. Patriotism is about people, yes - but saying that "I am part of so and so people" allows people to disassociate themselves with other 'peoples', when really we're all the same in the ways that matter. Disassociation, in turn, allows us to treat 'other people' differently, and often in bad ways - because we do not consider them of our 'own' people, sub consciously at least this allows us to not feel bad about hurting or abusing such people.
    Also, if its entirely about the people and nothing else, why put such emphasis of pride on a flag? Surely a better way to celebrate patriotism if it was about the people would be to honour the people instead of some flag?

    I know that this is not always the case and that many people treat all humans with equality and respect, but history has shown that people will treat others in a myriad of ways that are cruel beyond measure. Patriotism, I argue, can (not 'does' but 'can' - this is all about POTENTIAL danger of patriotism, hence the title) encourage this for some people, by creating this barrier of 'them' and 'us'.

    The Germans during WWII were certainly extremely patriotic - yet that nation was certainly not a liberal one, nor contained freedoms for its people. In fact Germany was twisted via propaganda into a horrifyingly racist, homophobic and anti-semitic nation, and can in fact be considered, in one light, an extreme example of patriotism gone wrong - by cementing the idea that the Germans were the superior people, it allowed those in organisations like the SS to disassociate themselves with the horrendous acts of genocide that they were ordered to perform.

    Well, you say 'free'... 'free' in the sense of "you're free to do what you wish, so long as you can rip yourself away from the grip of extreme poverty. Goodluck!". For every $1 that the US army gives to assist and rebuild the nation, another $12 goes into the war effort that destroyed so many of their community in the first place. Millions of Iraqi's are 'free', and it cost 900,000 lives in the process.

    Baring in mind, by the way, N. Korea also greatly encourages patriotism for their nation and their leader...

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