We got our beloved van out again, just to drive across the border to Croatian coast and camp for a few days, enjoying the last bits of Adriatic warmth and sun. We mainly rest and take it easy, observe the sea to spot dolphins (I actually did one today, but only with binoculars ), do some work on editing our book, nothing big really. And we observe how this ridiculous dispute between our two countries over a few metres of sea border is affecting the attitude of people – not very strongly, but you can sense it somewhere in the air. You see, this is not only causing diplomatic tensions (and show-offs), but also through media bombardments shaping how people perceive each other across the border.
It all results in rising nationalism, the us versus them talk, the emotion I never felt related to in any way, not only in this case, but in general sense. Nationalism is not only a completely unknown territory for me; the very existence of it triggers me off. The fact that people do feel and express nationalistic emotions draws a lot of aversion, frustration and upset within me.
I remember growing up in a sort of a neutral country in the decades of the Cold War and I can clearly remember how, even in my childhood years, it all seemed so terribly stupid to me; the fact that human species, inhabiting the same old planet Earth, can not do any smarter than drawing distinctions and fighting wars, killing million for some ideas, for some religious nonsense, for who is right and who is wrong, for the question how is a piece of a land going to be called. I remember I was, a young boy, so furious when thinking about that. It just did not feel right and I couldn’t not be affected emotionally by that. I just couldn’t accept that everybody was taking this way of living for granted – you know, humans having wars here and there, now and then. That seemed to be generally accepted as a normal way of life of human species.
And I am still that little boy being in a shock, staring at it all in a disbelief.
I still get so irritated by any sort of nationalistic speech and thoughts. People saying things like: “Our nation is the best nation in the world. Our country is the best country. We believe in the right God. We are proud of our country. “
Now what does “being proud of your country” actually mean? I guess it means that some people in the history, living in the same area as you were born (by a sheer coincidence, let’s face it) to, well, these people accomplished some things that you like. This is nice, but to be proud of that? It makes sense that people are proud of something they have accomplished, but to be proud of something somebody from the same area, far in the past, has done? Then why not be proud of everything people accomplished in the past, on the whole planet. Let’s celebrate the beauty of the human spirit. And let’s mourn the stupidity of it too.
I guess that I am not only allergic to violence, but also to nationalism.
And now I am getting in touch with the possible reasons for this allergy, for this reaction within me. You see, whenever you define yourself as a Croat, American, Chinese, Pakistani, French, Egyptian…, and whenever you define me as a Slovene, Argentinian, Australian, Tanzanian or Japanese, you focus on and emphasise the petty differences and draw a distinction between you and me, between us and them. And this is not something I want. I yearn for quite the opposite.
I want to connect despite differences, I want to embrace the diversity and bond across it, I yearn for connection, for togetherness, for communion, for Ubuntu… Yes, this is it, I can see it clearly now. Whenever I see this nationalistic emphasising of differences and evaluating them as good or bad, I actually feel sad, torn, hopeless, because not only do I value the communion of people across differences, but this is actually how I perceive this reality, this humanity. I don’t see us and them. I just see all of us.
Although it may sound cheap and wishy-washy or whatever.