Humanity as One Nation | Daily News


Humanity as One Nation

The terms ‘Nation’ and ‘National’ are often heard as we celebrate the Independence Day, hoisting the National Flag, singing the National Anthem and talking about National Unity. It is appropriate to ask ourselves at this time what we mean or understand by these terms.

The concept of Nation contradicts the concept of Humanity. It is an illusion created by the colonials. A nation does not give the people autonomy, freedom, independence or whatever other illusions created during the colonial period. In South Asia we cannot even find an equivalent word for Nation. Homo sapiens is one species, wherever we live, there are no sub-species under nation, race, creed or caste. Our motherland is Mother Earth, under one nation.

Even the English did not have a concept of a 'Nation' till 1300 C.E. It was invented by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, as mentioned by Edwin Jones, in “The English Nation: The great Myth”. Nation has been given so many meanings. Globally, for those who believe in a revealed religion our first ancestor was Adam, or for those who believe in the theory of evolution, then our early ancestors came from Central Africa. Then all mankind, the species we identify as Homo sapiens, is one nation.

The concept of a nation is a curse upon mankind. Identifying oneself with one group, by nationality, flag, language, dress code or political views alienates us from the others outside the group. The flag waving only widens the gap between people. A flag is a symbol of superiority, aggression, proclamation of victory over the vanquished. Such behaviour would only add fuel to the fires of conflict.

National anthem

If we really need a flag, let us have a Universal Flag, Vishva Dhvaja, for the human nation. A neutral white flag with an image of Mother Earth in the centre. Or we could have the sun, probably the earliest sacred symbol of mankind. If we need a Universal Anthem or Vishva Gita, we have a ready-made anthem created by Gurudev Rabindranath.

About 'Janaganamana' Mahatma Gandhi had said, "In a sense it is more a religious hymn for all mankind than a national anthem for any country". If Vandemataram had been retained as the national anthem of India, perhaps someday Janaganamana could have been easily adapted as the global anthem. As Rabindranath had written in a letter in 1921, "I love India, but my India is an idea and not a geographical expression. Therefore, I am not a patriot - I shall seek my compatriots all over the world. Rabindranath himself translated the song into English, and named it 'The Morning Song of India'. Today, we could rename it 'The Morning Song of Humanity', and we could translate it to any language.

All we have to do is change Bharato to 'Loko' (if that is the correct Bengali term) and use the names of continents and major geographical landmarks on Mother Earth, instead of Indian states and landmarks, then we could have a Vishva Gita, which could be sung by all mankind. Gurudev Rabindranath would have agreed with such changes. We talk of a National language, when there are 6,900 different languages today. Then perhaps we should consider there are 6,900 Nations in the world. There are over 800 different languages used in New York. We could call New York City a United Nation. In India, there are 398 listed live languages, with newspapers published in 87 languages and 58 languages taught in schools around the country. If each different language group wanted to establish their own nation, in the same manner the Tamil Tigers wanted to do in Sri Lanka, it would mean 398 different nations in India.

Patriotic feelings

Our countries had existed for many thousand years without a National anthem, or a National flag. No one was concerned about a National language. It is not an anthem or a flag which unites a people, or which creates patriotic feelings. It is the sense of belonging, sense of loyalty that creates this unity, like we have the unity and loyalty in our family, to our parents, our siblings and our children, in our part of the world, even to extended family.

We use three words arbitrarily, Nation, State and Nation-State. Perhaps the World Body should have been named United States, but unfortunately a North American “country” had already acquired the name United States, and that is probably why Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the term United Nations for the world body. USA is more a United Nation than any other country, with all the races, creeds, languages and every other label man has attached to himself.

Today we are talking about a 'global village'. All geographical barriers have been surmounted by easy travel facilities, and through digital communications, making the whole world one unit in cyberspace. Under such developments, we have to seriously consider whether anyone could be labeled as belonging to a particular nation.

“In the then influential Calcutta journal, Modern Review, Rabindranath wrote about an international desire to “achieve the unity of man by destroying the bondage of nationalism”.

It is time to realize nationalism is a bondage, a bondage that keeps us apart. Such a bondage may have served a purpose when we were under colonial rule, in our struggle for independence. Once we freed ourselves from this colonial bondage, we should also have freed ourselves from the national bondage. Once we crossed the river, we should have discarded the raft, instead of carrying it with us. It is time for the writers and artists to shed this misconception of a national identity in all their creative or critical works. Let us strive towards a Human Nation, for a better, more humane world, as children of Mother Earth.

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