1990s >> 1994 >> no-1078-june-1994

My Country

What is it that gives us that sense of belonging that allows us to refer to a particular part of the Globe as “my country”?


Only the obsessive would believe that our place of birth is anything more than pure chance. To be born in England, France or Estonia owes nothing to the desire of the newly-born baby, and rarely to the intent of the mother.


So if it’s got no intrinsic link to the process of birth, then it must have something to do with what starts to happen after that. In this respect, most of us have probably had pretty much the same experience.


The process of “naturalisation” starts passively enough in the early years at home. It may just be that there are certain things which have the word MY, in front of them. This is easy enough to associate when it’s “my rattle” or “my sweets”, but then the association starts to become a little more obscure. “My house” is a big concept for a three-year-old to deal with, particularly as the house represents the greater part of their entire life.


Already, the “my” concept becomes so entrenched it becomes second nature to the impressionable young mind and begins to influence its relationship with others, normally children. “Mine” is good enough reason not to share the sweets or let another have a turn on the swing or to put up with the company of a boorish neighbouring child in the garden.


With the property concept of “My” now firmly established, the child trundles off to school for the real damage to be done. Over the next eleven years a series of key learning experiences will confirm the importance of “My” culture. The school uniform, often the school song and mascot, the school teams all help to form the sense of being part of something difference, something better.


The next bit is easy. It’s taught in the way we learn languages, the way we learn geography and the way we learn history. It tells us that we’re part of something called our country and our country is different from and better than all those other countries. This is confirmed by our history which is taught as a series of wars, battles and great men all which served to defend our country against the envious and predatory desires of other countries.


Given all this indoctrination can we really be surprised when the general nationalism of the majority becomes the vicious nationalism of their fellow travellers in organisations like the British National Party.


Judy Reid