Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Doing Away with the Nation

Sometimes, I wonder if we should just do away with the concept of a nation. Yes, I know how much significance people attach to their country--it's their source of identification, it's their source of pride, it's their source of unification. However, I want to focus on the last item: unification. My problem with the concept of a nation is that while it unites people, it also divides. As long as we have nations, there'll always be another nation we'll come in conflict with, whether it's due to political, economic, or military interests.

One paradigm people view the world is through the lens of "us" and "them". It starts with "me" and "everybody else" and then slowly moves up from there: "family" and "everyone else", "our neighbors" and "everyone else", "our community" and "their community", and finally "our nation" and "their nation". It's always been theorized in pop culture and science-fiction that there's another level, when it'll be down to "humanity" and "the aliens". However, the latter hasn't appeared yet, and humanity still views itself in terms of nations rather than as one race. And because of that, conflict with other nations is inevitable.

The nation also has its roots in individuality. Each nation, or at least a significant portion of its community, always strives to "preserve" its culture. It can take the form of language, of practices and rituals, of religion, and ethics. I'm not saying we do away with these cultural markers that sets us apart, but in the end, this is all movement towards saying "I'm different from you". The struggle to be different, I think, is a very human act. However, this also keeps us separated from the rest of humanity, a barrier we set up ourselves. In the end, much of the conflict in the world stems from differences: differences in language, differences in skin color, differences in belief, differences in morals.

When people call for us to be one nation, I ask why limit ourselves to that? Why not be one people instead, rather than stick to the limitations of man-made borders? Why do we separate Filipinos from Americans, Asians from Caucasians, the East from the West? There's value in national pride, but that doesn't mean we should overlook its flaws and limitations.

No comments: