We talk a lot about nationalism. In the U.S. there is typically a movement among some to change the focus from external to internal. It’s nothing new. After all why should we worry about the woes of the world when we are constantly being blamed for causing the world problems? Shouldn’t we focus on fixing the problems in our own backyard before we start infringing our beliefs on others? How can we say what is right or wrong when there are so many wrongs right here at home?
This is all true. We do have issues here in the U.S. Our country spends the most money per capita (by 70%!) on healthcare and yet we rank 37th in the world for adequate healthcare according to the World Health Organization.
Educationally we rank 17th out of 40 developed countries with Finland and South Korea taking the top ranks. Asian countries dominate the top five spots. In literacy alone we rank only 24th.
Other rankings include being 33rd in internet download speeds and 17th in “happiness,” falling behind even Mexico.
We should be alarmed. Clearly we have many things we need to focus on. It makes sense that we should have a nationalist movement and want to fix the problems here. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Nationalism in itself can be a good thing, but nothing is absolute. In a world that is becoming increasingly smaller due to ease of access to international jobs and economies, internet access and finances, we can no longer turn our attention inward and expect all to be right with the world.
In the news lately is Russia and its annexing of Crimea. Russia’s president Putin is probably one of the top corrupt politicians in the world, but he knows how to use the nationalist movement to his favor. Clearly, all the sanctions that have been imposed have had little impact and his reputation has only grown as he defies the rest of the world.
In North Korea, a young dictator kills his uncle, starves his people and has become so self absorbed that when the United Nations (made up of several countries) accuses him of crimes against humanity his defense is to point the finger at the U.S. and say, well, they’re bad, too. It reminds me of two siblings blaming each other for the same offense.
In reality, we need to stop this idea of individual countries and nationalism. Don’t get me wrong, you should feel proud of your country and where you come from and want to make the best of where you live. But in reality all nationalism does is separate you from every one else. We are a global economy; our world is increasingly open and growing smaller by the minute.
Young girls are being kidnapped from schools by extremists and sold into marriage. Poor countries with gangs of violence who view crime as a means to an end and families who sell their girls virginity to put food on the table are just some of the ills of the world.
At what point do we realize that instead of being nationalists we need to be “worldists?”
When do we stop starving our people, or selling our children or imprisoning those for having a different way of life or a different viewpoint? When do we start feeding the hungry, providing the same healthcare to both the rich and the poor and provide an education to every man, woman and child who wants it?
It’s not rocket science people. But it’s not easy, either. Things like pride and religious beliefs often stand in the way of growth. There are many different types of governments and belief systems and none are perfect, but all offer something positive.
First we need to accept that no one, no one, is perfect. Then we need to find the best there is regardless of where it is. Does Asia provide the best educational programs for young children? Why? What is their focus? How do they do it? How can we incorporate that philosophy in other countries?
Is Denmark really one of the happiest places to live? What does it have that other places don’t? It’s cold in Denmark. Winters are long. Shouldn’t France, Italy or Spain be in the top spot? (In my opinion the countries with the best climate, food and wine.) What can the rest of the world learn about this benchmark?
What is fair in a world economy? Many countries have cheap labor. What if the world had a minimum wage? Every nook and cranny of this world offers something to someone. In some places it’s natural resources in others its perfect climate. What if businesses had equal access to everything? Would that bring prices down?
As human beings we have so much potential, but we are traditionally all brought down by are own greed and desire for glory. Selfishness is our undoing.
We may all want to walk away from the problems of the world. It’s tiring. How do you fight extremism? Ignorance? Hatred? These aren’t things you can shoot with a gun or convince with rational talk. They are thoughts, ideas, wrong ones maybe, but abstract.
What if we all worked together to stamp out extremism and ignorance and illiteracy? What if we gave an honest wage to an honest worker? What if there were no clients in the sex slave trade no buyers of drugs?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, just a lot of questions. What I do know is turning inward and turning our backs to the world won’t solve the problems. It’s the easy way out and there are times when I, too, just want to close out the rest of the world. But those problems will continue to grow and become worse until we will have no option but to fight them with all our might. We need only to look at WWII to understand that.
What I do know is that there is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the world leaders and they need stand up to the task and make the hard choices for the good of the people. If they don’t then they send a message that you can be a bully against humanity and no one will stop you. You can rape, pillage and murder and everyone else will just turn a blind eye and say they are nationalists concerned with only what happens within their own borders until they finally realize that all those crimes ARE happening in their own borders, they’ve just been too blind to see it.