Monday, August 15

Independence Days And Gaza Pull Outs

While two countries in the Indian Sub-continent are celebrating the day on which they gained their independence, somewhere in the Middle East a controversial pull out plan has become law. While Israeli PM Ariel Sharon finally makes settlers vacate the Gaza Strip (and gets criticised by almost everyone in the process), Indian PM Manmohan Singh uses his Independence Day speech to warn Pakistan to end its alleged support for militants in Kashmir (here).

Apart from the timing there are a few things connecting these two events, some obvious and others not so. The bit I want to focus on is patriotism and how in these cases it may have led to the trouble the two regions are in.

For some reason I always cringe when people talk about how they love their country or speak of it like it's the best thing ever. Please don't misunderstand; I love visiting Pakistan, and I also love living in the UK, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to talking about these countries like they are some kind of spiritual being that I've been friends with all my life (although as some of you may know I can hardly be described as sentimental).

Still, I think that this personification of a country is just one of the symptoms of being over-patriotic. Is that even possible though? If it becomes the direct cause of unhappiness or injustice then I'd say yes. Whatever your opinion of the current situations in Kashmir and the Middle East, I reckon that if people were more patriotic to people than to the clumps of the land that they may not even live in or have never even visited, then there wouldn't be any situations to talk about in the first place. Perhaps then leaders can use Independence Day talks to exclusively discuss the positive things that have come from freedom while allowing people to freely live together rather than forcibly live apart.