Notes on Quotes: Nationalism and Patriotism

“Nationalism, like virtue, has its own reward.” – Mahatma Gandhi

To bring the emotion of unity to a particular group of people through division from the rest, may have a short term benefit as in Gandhi’s time, when the ideal was to break free from British colonialism. That ideal however, is antagonistic to the other ideal of Gandhi called “ahimsa” or “non-violence.”

Although “ahimsa” is a spiritual attitude of respect towards all life and all sentient beings which has been interpreted as “non-violence;” the application of that principle has been grossly misinterpreted when taken into a political context which is made of continuous, everlasting violent division among people. “Ahimsa” has been changed into a mere “concept,” where the “solution” to the “problem” of independence is to “apply” the “concept” of “non-violence” and use a “sacred word” to enhance the holiness of the “new practice.” How can you apply “ahimsa” when there is a mental division already in which we perceive another human being as an enemy? Nationalism just like patriotism serve for that purpose. India gained its independence but violence continued among Indians as religious fights took place. Gandhi was killed in that process. Was that the reward of nationalism?

“Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

An accurate description. Nationalism is an infantile disease where children play at dividing their territories and creating national songs and colorful rags to differentiate from one another. That game has been taken even to the “Olympic games” where athletes become soldiers, competing with others to be the “best,” to “win the war.” How childish, indeed! What Nationalism is ‘proud of’ is at the same time, the seed for division and violence. Nationalism has invaded many times the Olympic games, causing damage to the spirit of sportsmanship and poisoned the sense of fellowship with other athletes.

Measles is common in children. Thus, someone with an “adult,” “grown up” consciousness will not be part of such a game.

“I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.” – Eugene Debs

Eugene Debs had a socialist insight. Although those ideals were only at the intellectual level, they were promoted in a political party and thus, considered “illegal” at that time, which caused him to experience jail time and hardship. To feel beyond the boundaries of nationalities, is a way of living. Fundamentally, a way of BEING which does not have the need to convince another to gain followers. It is through that attitude how an individual could live with others without preaching ideas, as his only presence is the inspiration for others to change.

Nationalism is a barrier for greater consciousness. Beyond nations, there is the Earth. Even further, there is the Universe, Life itself. No borders there, and that is the basis of identity for any conscious human being.

“I” am Life, because Life is who “I” am.

One comment

  1. Gayathri

    Wonderful! Brother, what you wrote is just wonderful. I too believe in this. There is a word for this in Sanskrit which many Indians casually repeat without meaning it… “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” – means, the entire earth/ planet is one family. Hope the world realises this truth in the near future.

    Liked by 2 people

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