Redefining Nationalism

Every time I hear children exclaim that someday they want to become doctors to help the sick, I cannot help but wonder how they, in their green years, can already express such naïve yet profound longing for selflessness?

I know that such bright aspirations, said in the most honest of resolve, entail much more than mere utterances for a propitious future. That is why it saddens me whenever I hear grown-ups say that they have lost hope for this country.

It is equally depressing to find out that along their disenchantment comes a devalued sense of nationalism, leading them to leave the Philippines permanently, as if this country did nothing good for them.

However, I cannot blame the millions of Filipinos who have emigrated elsewhere in the hope of finding what this country cannot offer. And I will not want to blame myself either when the time comes that I have to seek greener pastures.

Honestly, I also have plans of working abroad, and perhaps settling there. Call it unpatriotic. But what am I to do if the choice left is between pragmatism and idealism, between self and country? Can my already-hungry nation feed me whenever it is already me who experiences hunger?

A recent tête-à-tête with a friend revealed his revulsion over how considerable an amount of his salary is severed by taxes. Of course, I am unable to sympathize with him, given that I am still in school. But, to know that our government is the second most corrupt in Asia already relates more or less what he actually feels.

More than anything, these circumstances proffer someone to leave the country or to lose the sense of nationalism. Even so, what is left of our nationalism compels us to do otherwise—stay put and find any saving grace for the country.

And we simply cannot forego such plea. Why?

We cannot ignore the appeal of nationalism, no matter how trifle it may be, because it is what fans our burning desire for a better future, not least a better country.

Meanwhile, it is always hard to pull together abstract concepts like nationalism, especially when its meaning is arbitrary and evolving. It is such an elusive concept and the task of pinning down what it really means is never easy.

Correspondingly however, to carefully unlearn the hackneyed nature of nationalism allows it to offer a more responsive characterization that goes beyond the “love for one’s country” definition. In the end, our sense of nationalism will always remind us about self-offering, about what should be righteously done to realize the greater and common good of the nation and of its people. After all, the love for country should not end where the love for ourselves begins. Without doubt, only nationalism can heal dissension among those that deter national progress, such as the internal conflicts between the Filipino bourgeoisie and proletariat. So long as there is struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed and so long as economic, political, and social equity are not attained, nationalism will always provide common ground for divergent ideologies.

Although selfishness and indifference are the most formidable adversaries of nationalism, still, it will never fail in rendering such venue since nationalism will always be the unifying thread that can transcend all boundaries—identities, languages, currencies, and even countries.

Now I understand what children really try to communicate every time they exclaim that someday they would want to become doctors to help the sick—nationalism in the most basal and most immaculate form. And I am convinced even more that there is hope; that not everything in this country is lost; that I would want to stay.

Credits from silverscythe5 of Peyups

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