Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Disasters

Prior to coming to Drew, my thoughts on national identity have been mostly positive.  It's a way for a people to embrace their culture, identify with others in their search for identity, and celebrate one's historical past. However many of these thoughts have changed after having to read for my classes in Irish History, the Fin de Siecle as well as my course in the history of disability.  Yes, maybe some of these readings have been a little more biased than others, but it still opened my eyes to new ideas.

Nationality has been around for a long time. However the trend towards nationality has really established itself during the Fin de Siecle.  In a time period of world warfare, it was important to have the support of the country to which you were fighting for.  It is no surprise that some of the most concise descriptions of national identity has been found in Joseph Stalin's personal writings.  In effort to making a socialist community, he made a list of requirements for such a culture to obtain a national identity: " a common language; a stable community; a territory; economic cohesion; and a collective psychology and character" (Davis 1995: 75). 

In an attempt to create a national identity, they have in reverse created a black and white set of rules with no grey areas in between.  By creating what it means to have a national identity, they have further created the ideal of the "other." If you don't fit into our national ideal image, then you don't belong at all.  While we live in a time where it is more accepting for the "grey areas" there are still instances to where this "other" is still lurking around today. In today's wars and political debates, we continue to label ourselves with our many different national identities. We continue to see people as the other in a negative way. Yes I understand that NOT everyone will hold the same view points, history and culture for that matter. Not everyone will get along, such rivals and enemies will still be had. I just hope that one day we will be able to embrace our national identities and just appreciate how long it has taken us all to get where our identifies are today. How far we have evolved from black/white ways of thinking, and that maybe we could add a little color in next to the shades of grey.

As with many good ideas, nationalism was an idea which may had good fundamental origins (to bring a culture together and to celebrate one's history and beginnings) and in turn has turned into a national disaster.

Davis, Lennard J. 1995. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body. New York: Verso. pg 75.

I couldn't pick between these two I'm adding both :)
"American Girl" - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

"Star Spangled Banner" - Jimi Hendrix

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