Monday, May 24, 2010

Ignorant faith - patriotism

I have written about faith before in this blog but I feel I should readdress this issue.

I do believe faith is important in society. There are things you need to believe in despite there being no evidence or logic to the argument. We, as a collective species, cannot always rationalize everything into a simple statement. Yet you cannot always have 100% blind faith. Most of the time you need a heavy big dose of reality or logic. In my opinion there are three situations were faith can be misguided: faith in God (religion), faith in your country (patriotism) and faith in your sports team (sports fanaticism).


Every time at dinner, I constantly hear from my father how great the Chinese are and it is starting to get tedious. I always hear statements about how this year's Nobel Physics Prize winner is Chinese or that the USA is kowtowing to China on trade negotiations. I always hear the news from my dad when another English school starts to teach Chinese in there classes.

I know China will be the dominant economic and political force in this century. Yet when I state there have been fifteen US champions in the men's 110 metres hurdles before Liu Xiang came along or that the Americans and the Russians sent people into space forty years before the Chinese did, my father tends to act like a child and blocks out my arguments by cover his ears and saying, "I can't hear you." Please not that he doesn't actually do that.

Whenever you partition people into countries you get will get skirmishes. They can range from the minor such as people arguing who has the better sporting reputation or which country has the best dish. The other extreme spectrum is war and armed conflict. War is usually perpetuated by patriotism but doesn't necessarily start it off. Instigators of war are usually economics or ideology. In years gone by, that is how we compared ourselves with other nations - by how many wars we won. Nowadays we have the Olympics for that.

We also have an affinity with our "countrymen" despite never having known them. There is always news on the TV when people from your own country are hurt or killed in a foreign land. And we are supposed to care? I know it is a tragedy but are we supposed to care more if they are citizens of our country or they live in the same area as us? People die every day but why does this particular piece of news is broadcasted on our airwaves?

Nowadays there is no need for patriotism. With the current state of media, information technology and travel, people grow up in on area of the world and migrate around to another area. I'm living proof of that. Despite being Hong Kong Chinese, I don't find myself anyway connected to China. I grew up in England and I consider myself English more than anything else in the world. But before people start calling me English or raise the question of the faults of the English, I like to strike a pre-emptive attack. I know the English can be snooty, snobby, prudish and racist. I know the English doesn't have a great cuisine culture, their football team is dire and that their political system is in upheaval. Yet every single culture, every single country has their strengths and weaknesses. I could poke holes in Chinese and Hong Kong culture but I don't, because I accept them.

That is one of the best things about living in different countries. You don't suffer from the Matrix phenomenon, that the reality you live in is the best. You accept that there are better and worse things out there.

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