An Epidemic of Miserly Nationalism

The US is building to a presidential election in November. It has been impossible to miss the inexplicable rise of Trump to the top of the Republican pile, nor to ignore the contest between the left and centre of the Democratic party personified in Clinton and Sanders. The nominations seems set, but nothing is in stone until the party conventions, and the war of words continues as the candidates seek to woo voters and discredit their opposition.

The UK is building to a referendum on its relationship with the European Union. Voters are being asked to decide if the UK should be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU. Both the Leave and Remain campaigns are chiefly focused on fear and greed. Both accuse the other of misusing facts or telling outright lies. There is little or no clear information from either campaign, and the national media isn’t helping with its daily interviews of another Joe (or Jane) on the Street who clearly has a strong opinion and very little information to back it up.

Naturally, I am hearing more about the later campaign at the moment than the former, but I admit to being deeply disturbed by the rhetoric I am hearing from both sides of both campaigns. The Leave campaign is railing about taking back our nation’s sovereignty. Trump is announcing that he will “make America great again”  while Clinton insists it still is and always has been great. The Remain campaign harps on incessantly about being “better in Europe” by which they mean stability and jobs, or, essentially, more money. The emphasis seems to be, almost exclusively, on nationalism, our own best interest, being ‘great’ (again?), whether a given decision will be better for my nation, my region, my pocketbook. It’s all me, me, me and mine, mine, mine and what can make my life better or my country more sovereign and protect me from the influence, influx and needs of those other people outside my nation’s borders.

It is hard to resist comparisons to the nationalistic attitudes that contributed to the two massive wars in Europe in the last century. The propaganda of almost every campaign seems to focus on objectifying (and so dehumanising) those who aren’t part of my nation. It’s the best interest of me and mine and the rest of the world can go hang if they aren’t going to contribute coins to my coffers or obey my country’s rules. Such language and ideas smack of hatred, sectarianism and bigotry.

In all the debates about the EU, I have longed to hear someone to explain how the UK’s decision could effect Europe and the rest of the world. Not just how it would effect the UK. Is it not more humane (not to mention more Christian) to consider whether the whole of Europe or the whole of the world would be better with the UK in or out of the EU? Should we not be asking what that decision would do to other countries as well as the UK itself?

And the Presidential campaign, as Trump pontificates about building walls and banning Muslims and Clinton plays on the historically novelty of a woman being so close to the White House, what about the world outside US borders? Surely it would be better, as Commander-in-Chief, to consider how best to use the considerable power and influence of the USA to make the world a better place. Surely the population of this rich and powerful nation would benefit from learning humility, practicing peace, and seeking to give out of its riches to help those less fortunate in the world.

If one thing is clear at this point in history it is that international relationships and international goodwill are more important than ever as enormous populations of refugees and migrants are on the move. Right now they flee war, bombs, poverty, but what will happen when the changing climate forces populations to flee rising seas or spreading deserts? The decisions these two powerful and influential nations make now will have a powerful impact on the rest of the world for years to come, and yet the rhetoric is all about me, and us, and my/our own nation.

The image of a miser gathering all his (or her) belongings close, brooding over them and snapping at anyone who comes near is applicable in both cases. The heartless selfishness of such rhetoric and politics bodes ill for the future of the world.

Why are we talking about building walls and not tables? Why are we seeking to close our borders not open them? How can we change this destructive rhetoric and learn to dismiss this erroneous idea of static national identity and sovereignty? We must learn to look past ourselves and past our own borders to see the naked human need in the world and practice basic respect for humanity – regardless of creed, colour or place of birth.

 

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6 thoughts on “An Epidemic of Miserly Nationalism

  1. I think leftest garbage like your spouting HAS been the policies of Of America for far to long. You think we should not look inward at this point? Our cities are mere shells of their former selves, infrastructure is crumbling, our borders HAVE been wide open for atleast 20 years. We’ve BEEN implementing trade policies that benefit others instead of ourselves with the mindset of “if it benefits you, it benefits the U.S.” The U.S. has gave gave gave until there literally is nothing left to give. Young white males are now dying faster than any other demographic for the first time in history. Why? They’re committing suicide and O.Ding on opiates. Our Vets are committing suicide at a rate of 22-24 A DAY, A DAY. Does that not matter, or is it that because they’re white, their disposable? That seems to be the theme of things. We’ll tell them that they’re being selfish, they need to think of others. Our borders have been open so long and WE HAVE WELCOMED people. The problem is, those people are not appreciative, their now telling us to “get out” of our own nation we tried to graciously share with them. We’ve caved and coddled until now we have parallel societies in the U.S. We are a divided nation like we have never been. All this “diversity” is tearing America apart. The only thing people seem to agree on, is how much they hate America. How much of a “RIGHT” they have to be here because America “OWES” them for some horrible atrocities. And you think we need of the same? No we do not. Our own people are worth just as much as the immigrants and refugees, AND they ARE STARVING, AND DYING TOO! It’s time to look inward, lick our wounds and heal our Nation, heal our people. We need Donald Trump right now, we need a Nationalist, a man who KNOWS we’re a great nation, a great people. A cheerleader to help us get up after years of being beat down and told we should apologize for who we are. We are an exceptional nation an exceptional people. It’s because of our form of Government and our beliefs; they way we choose to live our lives. Nobody is stopping other Nations from doing the same but when they choose not to, we do not owe them an apology or our Country. America WILL be great again and we can help others again. But right now it’s us that needs the help.

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      1. You’re probably right, but I will say I’ve heard quite alot about how it will help the EU for Britain to remain, but I’ve also heard alot about the harm it would cause. There’s another alternative that neither nation seems to be considering regarding the Muslim refugees. It’s clear to me the current system for caring for these people is unacceptable, to all involved. Muslims do not belong in the west. That may sound harsh but the bottom line is that our cultures are antithetical to one another. It’s not fair to the host nation to ask it’s citizens to act, speak, and dress differntly so as not to “offend” its new members. Nor is it right to ask native peoples to put up with being raped, and assaulted because it’s their “culture” to do so. It’s definitely not right to kick native peoples out of their homes to make room for new people. This is breeding animosity. How would you feel? On the flip side it’s not fair to yank these people from their way of life and drop them into our world and demand that they conform. I’m simplifying it far to much, but in Islam their religion is their law, period. They do not value the freedoms that we do. So why then is America and Europe not sending aid to these people and keeping them either in their home countries or at least in a nation that holds their same belief systems? The figures have been done and it’s been determined that, that is actually considerably cheaper than uprooting them and moving them halfway around the world where they don’t want to be, and frankly they aren’t wanted. Let me rephrase that, it’s not the people we don’t want, it’s their belief systems. It just seems like the logical solution, it’s cheaper and more humane for ALL. Let me ask a hypothetical question. A meteor hits America or Europe. Our homes are uninhabitable. Would it be ok for us to bring our Constitution and our farm equipment to Africa, plow up all the land, killing all the native wildlife and begin farming the African plains because that’s our culture? And because we don’t believe that our Bibles dictate our laws, we want our Constitution implemented. Or we’ll just wait until our population is high enough to force it on them through popular vote. Do you feel that would be an acceptable thing to do to the African people? If so, then I guess it’s perfectly fine to implement Sharia law in Britain and in America, because it’s coming. Somehow I don’t think you would feel the Africa scenerio would be acceptable so why then is it ok to do the same thing in our nations?

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  2. I would say there is currently no system for caring for these people. The conflicts currently on-going in the Middle East are, at least partially, due to the callous way Western governments (influenced by Zionism) carved the former Ottoman Empire into separate nations without due attention to the peoples that were already there. Western bombs in these nations are aggravating the refugee problem. There is great variety in Islam, so just sending Muslims to another Islamic nation is as likely to cause violence as solve the problem. Islam can exist in a secular society – Turkey is a majority Muslim nation that has had a secular government for most of the last century (although that appears to be changing now). It is not a necessary part of Muslim culture to be a rapist or to disrespect women, and yes, refugees and migrants should be expected to obey the laws and respect the culture of whatever new nation takes them in. It would not be proper for migrants from Europe and the US to take over Africa for their own use (although that is, unfortunately, very much how the US was founded). I should hope it is not Western culture to destroy land and wildlife, but unfortunately that is too often the case. I do not think all Muslim immigrants will seek to implement Sharia law in their new countries, the two are not inextricably linked. There are extremists in all ideologies – Christian, secular and atheist as well as Islamic. We do not give up our national identity by welcoming the homeless and war-ravaged to a new country. As I recall from my US history, Lady Liberty was all about welcoming the poor, lonely and destitute to a new country in search of freedom and a chance to better themselves. Is that no longer the American identity? If not, we are the poorer for the loss. If welcomed and given a chance to establish a new home, they can contribute to a new country, and they would be grateful for the opportunity to live in peace and raise their families in safety. By slamming the door and sending them back to a place where there is nothing for them but war we breed the kind of ill feeling that feeds directly into the rhetoric of groups like Isil and perpetuates an endless cycle of war and death.
    That’s what I think, since you asked.

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