THE BLOG

Why Nationalism Cannot Prevail

08/09/2014 11:26 BST | Updated 07/11/2014 10:59 GMT

When we separate ourselves, by nation, by religion, by football team even (yes I know that one will stir a few emotions) we are being divisive. It's adversarial in its very nature; an us versus you mentality.

The fact is that we breed such mentality from a very young age. We compete with our siblings for parental attention, we compete with our school peers for the best grades and we aim to be better than Mrs Smith's daughter next door. We become fans of large sports teams and we feud over 'my team' being better than 'your team' (albeit hardly any of us are actually the players on the field).

Now you might argue that a level of healthy competition is harmless. Indeed it encourages people at any age to bring out the best of themselves, to shine their talents to the world. Really? 'A flower does not compete with the flower next to it, it simply brings out its own unique nature driven beauty.'

So what am I saying with all of this? That the political situation in the middle east, or violence at football events, or wars fought in the name of religion are a result of all this us versus you thinking. So entrenched are we in our world view, so insistent upon being right against another person, or another nation even, that we will go to any lengths to defend that point of view. The whole plot becomes even more illogical when we consider that borders are simply invisible scrawlings of lines to divide nations of people. If mankind had always been free to roam the earth what might have happened? We wouldn't need to spend hours in the border control queue at London Heathrow that's for sure. Would the idea of travel even be such an exciting thing? Would the world's main religions even exist? Who knows, perhaps we may always reside in clusters of like-minded people.

This adversarial kind of thinking can never lead to world peace or harmonious living however. Talents, ideas, passions must be nurtured without the need to be better. Let's aim for uniqueness not better-ness. Fears fuel feuds and the kind of mindset that has us wage wars against one another (silently or overtly).

This kind of change can't happen overnight. It will take un-doing everything we have learned about society, about ourselves and unraveling the fabric of social thinking, perhaps it is impossible to dream of a world without wars, or a system of assessment that is not based on traditional metrics like money or intellect. 'Why,' said Alice, 'I dream of at least one impossible thing before breakfast.'