Monday, September 19, 2011

Nationalistic 'idiology'

Lately people have started to exhibit the very tiring habit of wanting to (in the best case) talk to me about the Greek crisis and get some insider's information, or (in the worst case) pass some condescending comment on the Greek population through me... I happen to be born half-Greek and this apparently justifies for people directing their fear and frustration towards me.

When people do this I always wonder: “what do you really want from me?”
I am just a simple human being like you.
Just like you I don't know how this crisis came to be.
Just like you I don't know what the best solution is.
Just like you I feel powerless.
Just like you I think it sucks.
Just like you I wish things were different.

But no, apparently I am not just like you.... Cause you want me to listen to your indignation. You want me to listen to how you good, hardworking and generous Dutch are going to loose money and how you might need to compromise some of your luxuries.
Apparently I am not just another human being anymore.

I am the lazy and corrupt Greek and you of course are the good, Dutch Samaritan who is being exploited.
I am, at that moment, just a representative of the Greek nation, to be interrogated and to be punished, while you don't even know that I in fact hate the concept of nations.

What tune would you be singing if you were born Greek? Would you still talk with the same air of indignation and would you not be the hardworking and honest person that you are today?

Beside the fact that you are passing simplistic judgments upon a whole population (didn't World War 2 teach us the dangers of doing this?) you are also forgetting that all what you claim to be rightfully yours (your country's wealth and prosperity) has nothing to do with you. You talk as if it were created by your own sweat and tears but all you ever did was to be born in a country called the Netherlands. I am sure it must have been excruciatingly difficult for you to crawl out of your mother's belly in a country with such bad weather (;p) but seriously do you think that you therefore, more than others, deserve a lifelong of comfort and prosperity?
“Yes, but my parents/ancestors worked hard!” Well, whose parents didn't!? Would you rather trade places with a family living off the e-waste in Ghana? And then again, did you choose your parents?
All you ever did was to effortlessly receive the result of centuries of human history and bloodshed. And now here you are, shamelessly taking it and making it your own; protecting it with all your strength so that others may famine while you flourish...

When will we stop thinking about nations and start putting humans first?

PS: Feel free to substitute Dutch and Greek with any nations you like.... This happens everywhere...


Lukav said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lukav said...

The habit of attaching labels to people based on their being born in a country is the oldest and most stupid logical mistake of human reason. Since it is completely random where each of us was born, and since it is simply self-evident that a single person cannot have ANY responsibility in what other people do that by the some joke of chance where born in similar latitudes and longitudes (let alone: people who by chance were born in the same territory 100 or 1000 years earlier), and since the opposite is also true - that is, we can personally derive no merit or no blame from what these other people do or have done -, then why on earth would the brain make such assumptions? Actually, we probably aren't even responsible for what WE INDIVIDUALLY do - because of all sorts of circumstantial, psychological, hormonal, chemical influences on our behaviour (and: we have no responsibility AT ALL if you accept a mechanicistic view, which is not unreasonable). Which makes country-based assumptions all the more idiot. However, there is a reason for those assumptions - the human brain needs simplifications, labels, generalizations. We would never learn that fire hurts if our brain would not recognize, after the first attempt to put your hand on fire, that all subsequent fires it sees must have something to do with that one that hurt us. So the brain creates groups and assumes that things that are similar by a feature must also be similar by other features, if there is evidence that those features accompanied each other at least once in the past. We would simply not work in this world without those generalizations. So, in the end, national bias and even racism are stupid by-products of a necessary brain mechanism... But can we control ourselves better than other animals?

Philo said...

I think you raise a very interesting question. What are we really responsible for and what can we truly take credit for? If I had been born with a beautiful voice (which I totally do not have :p) could I have been proud of it?

Xavier said...

Loooooved this article :) I'm so always thinking the same, whenever I hear sentences starting by "oh but you french people..." and all the shit, being positive or negative actually... Oh, makes me think, you should watch the show "Pure Laine", if you can follow french with a canadian accent, you'd probably like it a lot.

Philo said...

Je viens de voir le premier epidose. C' est trop mignon cette serie! :) Merci!

gmsmc said...

Well, the thing is: human characteristics aren't randomly distributed throughout the peoples of the world. This means that two people from the same country are more likely to have similar behaviours than two people from two different countries.
Likelihood doens't mean certainty, though. It just means that, if you make some assumptions based on country statistics (see Hofstede's work, for instance), you'll be right more often than you'll be wrong.
Needless to say, I'm speaking about measurable (albeit potentially subjective) traits, not biased stereotypes that have no correlation with reality.