Reflections on Nationialism and Activism in the Post-9/11 World

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

In European history, nationalism is a modern phenomenon. It was created to focus allegiance with secular leaders and push financial support away from the church. As a student of peace and justice studies in the 90s, I discovered this hidden history of patriotism and it turned my understanding of national affairs inside out.

The problem with nationalism is that it requires a belief in exceptionalism. You must agree that your country is superior to other countries and that the well-being of your countrymen is more important than the lives of others.

As much as I appreciate being a U.S. citizen, I do not perceive myself or my fellow citizens as superior to other peoples. I believe strongly in building the beloved community and creating a world at peace, where all peoples needs are met. In the modern world, how can it be moral to leave people hungry, homeless, or sick when resources exist to care for their needs? Which is more important - eudaimonia, human flourishing, or political ideology?

I am a third generation American and I am a proud internationalist. I know the only way to defeat terrorism and other deadly threats is to celebrate our common humanity and support the expansion of human security. I therefore reject the term "homeland" and denounce its use by the government to force nationalism on the population.

As a proud citizen, I am deeply saddened by the billions wasted on "homeland" security -- from illegal surveillance of citizens to unnecessary tanks bought for local police to the bloated expanse of security studies in our nation's universities.

Imagine if this country spent as much money on peace studies as war studies. Imagine if we spent as much ensuring full employment, access to food, housing and education as we do bombing citizens of other countries and hiring contractors to rebuild foreign lands.

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, my prayer is that we reverse the fear-based policies of the last decade. My hope is that believers in peace and justice, weary from ten years of intense struggle, re-engage. While it is true our mass mobilizations and countless hours of organizing have not ended the wars or diminished the corporate stranglehold of our government yet, we cannot give up.

We must nurture ourselves and our communities, reflect on our victories and hiccups through art, take time for a good meal and a glass of wine, then come back together to create the future we want for our children and our children's children. If you can't fathom returning to the forms of activism that burned you out, don't. But don't stop working for change. Join us as we help mother the next chapter of the peace and justice movement. Spread our message of hope -- Create, Not Hate. And remind your friends that together, we will build the beloved community.

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