October 18, 2018

National identity - do we need it?

A nation does not become a nation without its people having a passion for nationhood. The founding fathers of any nation had that spice for nationhood inscribed in them by the historical precedents they lived in. Every nation had an oppressive history from which its people wanted to be free. This freedom came at a cost of bloodshed and lives lost in most cases for the colonizer wouldn't give up their prize cow without a fight in most cases for they owned their prize cow for centuries. They invested in it in selfishness or not in its social institutions and its economics. But when times changed and the world clamored for this change whose time had come, the tipping point makes for these communal transitions; to nations big and small that is vested in democratic garments of sovereignty and human dignity and equal rights for all its peoples. The new nations while they had inherited centuries of foreign ways, they nevertheless tired to maintain their national identity in symbols such as statues of their martyrs, national flags and national anthems and celebrating their history in the birthdays and events that marked milestones in their political and cultural past. They celebrated everything local and tried to shape the new nation with images of their uniqueness. Some big enough to be visible and built and even military power to show their eagerness to protect this hard earned freedom. Consequently large amounts of national wealth was spent on these even at the opportunity costs of feeding the hungry or providing shelter to the marginalized. National dignity was important and that came from the show of power. This was a downside some may say but this was how they saw the priorities. This was the new nation states of the 20th century.

In the present day separated by three or four or even more generations from those passionate martyrs and social entrepreneurs, the present youth have no inkling of those past struggles. For most. this day is a leapfrog moment that leaves the history of those three or four or more generations behind in hazy or no memory and with only the ways of the colonizers to play with as they find place in the new national democracies. They only know and feel for the ways of the colonizers from where they got educated and whose ways they still attempt to emulate in this cultural and technological state of neo-colonization.

If we seek to maintain our nations as possessions to revere and protect, we need to reconstruct the images of nationalism into a holism that is paradigmatically different from the diversity that signified our nations of the past. The egalitarianism of culture creed and language and religion is being shredded and woven again into a wholeness that is signified by similarity, not diversity. That is perhaps what the neo-colonizer propaganda calls for. It thus remains for us to ask the question whether we want that in our heart of hearts or seek to maintain our true identity not as a mere waft of nostalgia but a five-sense daily reality. Don't answer this in a hurry, and especially while enthralled and inebriated by the fun and the glitter of the TV screens and its soap operas, the fake personality world of the facebook, instagram and twitter. These social media platforms push us into this mixed up mould which makes us totally like them and where nothing of us remains. Alternatively, could we ask why don't they become us? Do we ask that question ever? Or are we just following the pied piper to a faceless future and our cultural doom. If we want to change, why not attempt to chart another model of development and modernization? Do we have a mould that cannot be broken? Is it God-sent or man-made? If we have to courage to rebuild, a re-fabrication will require new minds; not minds such as those that fabricated the past. This what i would call Maldives to attempt. New minds and youthful energy is not in short supply, but we need moral inspiration and the courage to move this way. If we have that edge, we have the chance of a new moment yet again, to breathe and think and reflect. 

Lets not bet again for another chance. How many chances should one get. Already we are too blessed and Providence pokes us again. Let's not lose this chance to lift ourselves out of the greedy and selfish isolationist attitudes that seem to have gripped us for the past 10 years as a nation. Let us reframe our future in knowing what it means to be Maldivian. Let’s again attempt to become that corner of this world people label as the most peaceful of God’s sprinklings on earth.

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