Never has so simple an emotion - love of one's own country - invoked in so many people so complex a feeling.
This is not because loving one's country is hard; on the contrary, it is one of the most natural and intutive thing to do.
What's complicated is that this emotion has now been hijacked and employed in the worship of false Gods. It's that kind of love, which, in the service of demagouges, is built of hate, of violence, of exclusion. It is one emotion which needs sanction from others, a feeling whose shape must conform to expectations - in summary, an artificial thing!
However, even in these troubled times, the way out of this is not stopping to love one's country - that's impossible for a normal human being - but to think carefully about what loving one's country means. It's about reflecting where love turns to hate and why and how this love, our great source of inspiration and strength, makes us gullible to manipulation.
First, let's start perhaps with this question: Do we love the country because it's the best, the most beautiful and the most special in the world? Indeed, if such a comparison was possible and such a perfection existed, we would need no effort to be in awe of it. But easy love - not purified by pain, doubt and sacrifice - is not a worthy feeling. Rather, we love our country because it's our country, because it's part of us, like our parents, our food and our language. It's indeed the most beautiful to us, but this beauty is not crowned in a competition but discovered and understood privately, like that of our mother rather than that of a model.
Second, we should ask whether loving our country meant we shouldn't see its faults. If a country is full of compliant, uncritical citizens, however, this will surely mean decay and destruction. Because, if we accept our countries are perfect - and can't see any of its faults - then there would be nothing we should work to improve. It's appropriate to say that your country is the one you could be ashamed for, because this is one for which your heart beats and this is the one you would see bettered. Again, we come back to the question of effort and commitment: If there is no shortcoming, nothing to improve, we get into a realtionship with our country that requires no effort or commitment.
Third, we should also ask if loving our country means we can't appreciate any other country in the world. This may be the case if we love our country the way we do our favourite actress, being a fan and giving a certain loyalty and devotion. But this will not be the case if we love it the way we love our mothers, as a part of us, imperfect but inextricably our own, may be poor but the most comforting. This will leave us capable of loving all other countries that hold its people in love and attachment, just as we find all motherly love and affection adorable. This will also make us capable of understanding the love that others may have for their own countries and help us appreciate the effortful relationship that people have entered into with their countries, now or in the past.
A beauty pageant entrepreneur may indeed think loving one's country is about checking its bust size and checking on the charm of its smile, but those who really 'gave their last full measure of devotion' and loved their countries without ever stopping, they would recognize the above sentiments. The argument simply is that the love for one's country is not competitive (as in loving better), temporal (as in making love) or transactional (that I love it when it loves me), but natural, persistent and unconditional. This loving relationship needs to effort to enter but complete commitment and lifelong work in return, just as any such loving relationship will do; this love also allows us to love everyone who is capable of love and appreciate all the other countries which embraces its citizens in a loving relationship. No one is anti-national in this love, except those who put their private interests first and try to manipulate their fellow citizens in the name of love of their country.
Of course, there are many of this kind: The motley fascists of all nations and their train of profiteers and babus, whose love of country is all too facile, all too fast and only on facebook. They love only power and their only claim of loving their country is through calling other people anti-national. Love of the country, for them, is one big excuse, a relationship of exploiting the advantages but not taking any of the responsibilities. This manifests itself in the language of exclusivity and exclusion, in the advertisement of ardour and rejection of any possibility of improvement. For them, a enemies of the people are always handy to prop the claim that all criticisms are unjust conspiracies.
We all know people of this kind: Career patriots are eating the world! They are driving our societies to the precipice, exploiting our most noble sentiments to create the most vicious relationships possible, corrupting great republics and breaking the nations. It's this kind we must remain vigilant of. We should say - never again - and reject the temptation of loving our countries through hate.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Italy recently apologised to Libya for its occupation of the country between 1911 and the Second Word War and offered an investment deal of $5 Billion over next 25 years towards reparation. This is largely symbolic, and investment deals could have been done without adding this moral halo . But the apology itself is an important step. The key question is one of principle, indeed. It is about whether the occupying countries do accept that their colonial exploits did enormous harm to the occupied, and whether they are ready to accept the responsibility. As the world becomes more sensitive towards the wrongness of occupation [even George Bush was heard saying that occupation of Georgia by Russia is unthinkable in the 21st century!!], and the world justice system gears up to try the leaders causing genocide and violence, paying for past crimes - including occupation - becomes ever more relevant and important. There are several issues which are still hotly debated - slavery, for example,
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.