It’s a fact of life, that even when a word or phrase isn’t co-opted or shanghaied, it can still have more than one meaning.
I’m sure that comes as no surprise to most folks.
It gets confusing though, when two people use the same word thinking they’re meaning the same thing when they say it, and that proves not to be the case.
Imagine, for example, that when I use a given word, I have positive intent, but when another hears that word used, it’s immediately, and sometimes irrevocably negative.
Such is the case, in my experience with the term, “nationalism.”
When I hear or use that expression, I certainly have positive, even happy thoughts. Yet when others—mostly people whose perspectives are to the left of my own—hear it, in their minds are conjured terrible images, based on certain events, mostly in other countries where the pronouncement was misused in my view.
On being exposed to the word, I imagine an entity in general cooperation. I see a throng of people and parcels of real estate, that are grouped together, not just for their own good, but for the good of those around them, indeed, around the world.
I don’t think of a conglomeration of people in a constant, rigid stance of obeisance, or salute of some national banner.
I have no imagination of people looking down their noses at others for having been born in foreign lands.
Rather, I see a generally pleasant set of locals of a given nation, seeking first to make a better life for themselves, then for those with whom they cohort, and ultimately, to make the World a better place for all found therein to the degree they’re able so to do.
It can assuredly be argued that each nation has a character all its own. It can equally be stated, that the gestalt of some national entities is largely positive, while others tend to be perceived negatively.
Anyone seriously considering say, North Korea, knows on the whole, it’s viewed in a far from shining light. Yet they’re also aware that the character of that country is in no way representative of each and every one of the people residing there.
Likewise, the United States has typically been viewed as a sort of city on a hill. That neither means all the people in America are good, nor does is it intended to imply, we’re entirely without political and other combined issues or problems.
The point though, of a nation, and equally of nationalism, is for people to be able to work together with some sort of guarantee they can do so on somewhat even terms. We abide by the same laws to a large extent. We all pay taxes (though there’re arguments as to whether that’s done fairly). We work with the idea of helping to make the lot of those on our little plot of land healthier, happier, and more prosperous.
Then, when and if we succeed, we reach ever outward, to try and bring the same types of success and well being to the rest of the World as we’re able.
Are there better places on Earth where one might choose to live? Possibly, but it’s hard to imagine them. Are people leaving the country in droves or attempting to enter it in masses? Though one might argue the former, for the most part, it’s definitely the latter to this point.
Why is that? Is it because we have laws and rules that’re anything like perfect? No. How about people who never act in bad or unfair ways? I wouldn’t say so.
Yet people seek still, to find their way here in numbers that are probably record-setting day on day.
As a nation, we’re nowhere near perfection. We have problems that are ever-present and will probably be with us until our country falls to dust. Even so, overall, it’s hard to find a better place to hang one’s proverbial hat.
I’m sure there are those arguing for other countries, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that their logic is always horribly bad. That said, allow me to point out that the waiting list to enter the United States legally, is always packed. In mentioning this, we don’t even concern ourselves with those willing to risk life and limb to find themselves within our borders through less than legal means.
Here’s the funny bit though. Both inside the sub-entities, and the country as a whole, are those who would seek to change either all of part of the U. S., so that it matches their own nation or the place inside our country. Many people having left the places whence they came, often did so to escape what their little part of the World had become.
Is it too much to ask, that you spend some time in the place to which you absconded, before you come to conclusions about how it can be made better?
Am I asking more than I should, when I request you not come into my house and rearrange my furniture?
Perhaps if we talked about it, I might come to agree that things need changed, but when you come to where I live, and tell me how my way of doing things is problematic—most particularly when you fled, sometimes with basically the clothes or your back—and request or require change, you might consider that you’re overstepping your bounds just a little.
Further, you might (again) come to realize that the place you came to, is what it is at least in part, because it didn’t do things in the ways the place you left did.
I get that you miss home. That said, you apparently don’t miss it sufficiently to go back there (and no, I’m not trying to tell you that’s what you should do).
As much as I miss my youth:
- It’s gone, never to return.
- I leave my younger days behind, moving towards places I hope to be better, with the full understanding that where what’s in the mirror looks good, it was anything but perfect.
That doesn’t mean I can’t look back with fondness. It does mean I can’t return to it.
You have the right to look at and even practice nationalism as you choose. For me, it means being a part of a group greater than myself, with aspirations for a better future, first for ourselves, and finally, to those outside our borders. I hope this clarifies the position of what I imagine is a great many people who espouse nationalism.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.