Originally posted on RHYMES&REASONS rebeccapells.com
The temperature of nationalism has been on the rise in Europe since the beginning of this century. Last week it came roaring it’s way over the threshold of the UK parliament seating itself firmly in the chambers of power. The middle ground is being pulled to the outer edges of fear and grievance.
At best nationalism is an invitation for the unwelcome guest to return home; at worst the exorcism of an unwanted presence in our homeland. We struggle to let go of the way we have decided to tell our story, embellished by time and enmeshed with grievance it provides us with a sense of belonging. Nebulous and lacking definition it longs for incarnation and roams with intent, seeking the portal of increasing support through which it can transmute and manifest. At the same time we are not quite knowing or recognizing the form of our intention. We explore the streets of our political landscape looking for firm ground but finding only rough terrain which keeps us off balance and unsure.
Instead of choosing to let go of the foundational memory of those we were wronged by, a false sense of self enables a collective pain to thrive and breeds fresh fear of a contemporary but false enemy. We cease to be afraid of our neighbours when we cease to carry the collective fear and injustice of our past, choosing instead to make friends with those we previously challenged with a beckoning hand to our future. To let go is to enable ourselves – our nation – to see our place in the world more elementally and clearly. It is to unburden ourselves from carrying the past and lighten the load, sweeping away the black cloud of history which was passed down to us and – without such bravery – we will inevitably pass to our children.
Withdrawal from the front line of demand and grievance enables us to realign and find a fresh perspective, viewed through a contemporary wide angle lens rather than the myopic glass of selective and painful memory. It is only from here we will find solid ground from which to step forward in friendship and have our voice heard in a different, clear fresh and powerful way.
This is a thoughtful and hopeful vision of human nature. Perhaps some day we will get there. Although, it will require much more than simply pointing the way towards an enlightened future. Our children must be taught. Our adult prejudices must be shown to be the destructive forces that they are. Our societies must foster cooperation and minimize conflict. But most of all, our leaders must be held to such high standards by the people they are tasked to serve.
Hi Robert. Yes indeed you are right. It is one of the great ironies of education that it is adults with all their prejudices that are the teachers of the young unprejudiced – especially where there is a collective national grievance of some kind. History proves time and again that to just tell people to stop fighting rarely works. It has to come from an understanding that carrying a grievance that originates from years ago (and is often irrelevant in the 21century) in the end only harms us (our thoughts dictate our actions). It is only then that people will choose to change and be brave enough to be the lone voice of dissent.
Well said, and welcome to the League of Bloggers! 🙂
You deserve credit for taking on nationalsm, a tough subject in Europe so close to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). People living in MENA unfortunately were born on lands holding great energy resources and are caught in the crossfire. Mirroring Robert, welcome to the Leaugue of Bloggers and look forward to future posts.
Hi Jerry. Yes imperialism is also a growing problem (did it ever go away?) because of a wealth of resources in some countries and also farm land which Europe and Russia is fast running out of. That of course leads us back to the huge questions around population and resources!
Thanks both for the welcome – I look forward to participating further. Rebecca
When you talk about European nationalism, are you talking about the anti-Muslim trend happening in Europe?
Hi Tanya. The post was written in the wake of the general election when the Scottish Nationalist Party increased it’s number of seats in the UK parliament from 6 to 56 (quite legitimately under our antiquated voting system) and are now the third largest party. This particular example has little to do with anti-Muslim feelings but I suggest it’s much more to do with historical grievances between Scotland and England. Nationalism is like a sleeping dog which is awoken by a set of events, in particular economic austerity (as in Germany pre second World War) when the tendency is to look for a scapegoat (someone to blame) and our belief system leads us straight to our former ‘enemies’. We are seeing nationalism waking and vying for attention in right wing parties in Scotland/England, Germany/Jews, France/Muslim and others include Austria and some Scandinavian countries. It is by no means exclusively aimed at Muslims but those from Eastern European counties too. I do think that lasting peace comes only from a change in a belief system when eventually – and sadly often following years of war/pain/trauma – the realisation dawns that our long held and entrenched views no longer serve us but are harming us. We have seen this in Ireland – so it can happen although it is still early days to see if it lasts.
I understand now, thanks! You have a beautiful writing style, by the way!
By the way, your profile pic is in the author’s section now. Check the home page of this blog on the right.