Nationalism is a spirituality killer.
Let me clarify. Spirituality is sets of beliefs and practices that give us a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. At its best, it opens us up to possibilities and connects us with others.
Nationality is its enemy. Nationality presents a very narrow world perspective. Rather than opening us up to possibilities, it prefers to close us off with fear (after all, fear is great for controlling people). Rather than connecting us with all of humanity, it prefers to segregate us, separate us, and elevate those who are the most similar to us places of privilege.
Nationalism is a society killer as well. This isn’t simply true from a moralistic point of view which recognizes that it promotes violence, bullying, and marginalizing, but it also is true in a more pragmatic way when you play out Nationalism to its natural consequences.
You see, one of the most effective tools of Nationalism is fear. “They” are coming for your guns. “They” are coming for your jobs. “They” are coming for the women and children. And so on.
For Nationalism to work there must always be a “They.” “They” aren’t like us. “They” are jealous of how great we are and want to hurt us. It’s all well and good when “they” are a distant somebody in another country, but some of “them” need to be here, close by. Nationalist need to be able to worry that one of “Them” might do something deplorable in a public bathroom or in their own bedroom or maybe even at a public forum. Better yet, at least in terms of how Nationalism works, they need YOU to worry about it. They can then use that fear to motivate you to feel superior to others.
That kind of a divided nation, that kind of divided society, is unstable and self-sabotaging. It will ultimately live a short life in terms of the long history of the rise and fall of nations.
One of the biggest misconceptions of U.S. politics is that the system works from the top down. From trickle down economics to third-parties putting so much effort into Presidential candidates, we have bought heavily into the idea that we live in a society that starts at the top and filters its way down. The reality is that if we want real change, if we want significant change, it has to start at the bottom. We have to provided a wide and stable foundation from which to grow.
If we are talking economics, it means making sure everyone makes a livable wage. If we want more than a two-party system, we need to focus on getting the candidates we support elected to local and state positions. If we are talking spirituality, we need to become more active in movements like #BlackLivesMatter; we need to more actively participate in diverse communities and to celebrate the diversity of our own.
And finally, we need to stand up and speak out everytime we see someone being marginalized or bullied. We need to, at every turn, proclaim the value and equality of every life… even those with whom we disagree – yes, even the Nationalist.