I’ve come to the conclusion that the age-old notion of national identity is a catalyst for conflict. It causes people to suffer the divisive effects found within dictatorship, racism, ideological beliefs, genocide, wars… amongst many. I recognise Brexit and Trump as specific symptoms of the same phenomenon – self-interested nationalism. And as for the folly of so-called #placebranding…
How can we celebrate global diversity whilst protecting such nationalism? Here is a paradox of aspirational inclusivity whilst persisting in self-absorbed exclusivity.
We may occasionally be distracted by apparent feel-good international unity during sporting competitions, but even these sometimes fail to deflect the occasional risk of nationalistic violence. My passport states that I am Italian. But the insights I’ve gained over forty-plus years of travel, have led me to conclude that my true, unapologetic identity is as a “citizen of anywhere”.
I now recognise that, whereas nationalism often presents an ugly face to the world, in my opinion there is now an opportunity for it to acquire an all-embracing identity.
One possibility is for politicians to cease from seizing nationalism and patriotism to suit their own agendas, or to bolster their own ideological viewpoints.
Another is an appeal for people to set-aside their mis-placed sense of cultural and national superiority.
Then there’s the consequent opportunity for countries to embrace the promises of an inter-connected world – and to reap sustainable economic and ecological benefits of human, biodiverse and material resources, when shared amongst our common humanity.
Nationalistic flags fly in the face of creative human generosity. I am not identified by my place of birth – instead, I am a citizen amongst citizens – just like everyone else.