I have been disenchanted with nationalism for some time now. I truly believe it should become a thing of the past, and none too soon.
I also believe (with near religious fervor) that it is more important to be a human being than a citizen—of any country.
Our basic (and common and equal) humanity is of primary importance, not whether or not we happen to come from such and such a place, and are therefore the proud possessors of a heritage that is worth holding on to, no matter how much we may have embellished that heritage with our own imaginings.
Which leads me to the war on terror.
I have the same feeling about that unfortunate (and completely unnecessary) episode as the one on drugs. They are both patently absurd. There should be no war on terror (or drugs). The very fact that there is one only exacerbates the whole terror (and drug) scene.
As 911 recedes further into history, it becomes more and more evident that our response to it was a mistake, a big mistake. We should have taken a harder look at what they (the terrorists) actually did. They hijacked airplanes. The smartest thing that happened afterward was the action taken by the FAA when it grounded all flights, for about a week if I remember correctly.
We should have maintained our focus on that, and little more. There is no way we should have gathered our military forces together and launched a preemptive and/or retaliatory strike against Afghanistan, let alone Iraq.
These things should have never happened.
We should have concentrated instead, on the ability of anyone (from any country) to ever hijack an airplane again. That is all we should have done.
We did not react to the terrorists; we overreacted. We wasted resources, time, money and human lives (which may be exactly what they wanted us to do, which means we played right into their hands, which means they won).
(We also made it possible for a private company like Haliburton to make nearly 40-billion dollars as the result of it, most of it from no-bid contracts.)
So what does this have to do with nationalism? It's very simple. If there were no such thing as the United States, no such nation, there would have been no strike against it. It would not have existed as a target. If there is no such thing as France, it would be pretty hard to attack it.
National boundaries need to disappear. It's a small world. It doesn't belong to anyone. But we all have to use it. The United States does not own the resources of this planet, and should stop acting as if it does.
This, I suspect, is one of the seminal reasons the terrorists terrorized us. From their perspective, we are terrorizing them, by irresponsibly gobbling up the planet's resources, and virtually coercing anyone on our path to embrace our ideology in the process. Who do we think we are anyway? Are we truly so myopic?
But, to be fair, I suspect that the citizens of other countries are the same. I am sure that the French are proud to be French, the Chinese to be Chinese and so on. It will not be an easy task to persuade the various nations to give up their sovereign status (as nations) and somehow melt into a single world state. It should happen, but it most likely won't, at least not for long time.
Yes, it should happen, because it seems like the right thing to do. When you think about it, it is not asking world leaders (and their respective constituents) to do anything more than acknowledge their natural equality as human beings, and to further acknowledge that the planet really does not belong to anyone, but that we all have to share it. And since we are all equal (as human beings), there is no reason why we should not share it equally.
All ideologies of all nations should be subordinate to a single humanitarian ideal: we are all free and equal human beings, with the same rights, regardless of the circumstances of our birth.
March 9, 2008