Blue vs. White: Strength, culture comes from the individual countries
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 11:03
What is better for a nation?
The roots of imperialism run deep and cling tight, even in the 21st century. Take, for instance, the news that Scotland is expected to become a nation independent of the U.K. sometime in 2014. For many people, this seems a step backward from the trend of confederacy set by the European Union. It also raises an interesting question, whether or not Northern Ireland will break their ties with the United Kingdom and rejoin the Republic of Ireland, as many of its citizens have hoped for. For that matter, why should they? It’s no secret that being a part of a union gets you access to federal aid and protection by a larger army, so why would Scotland and Northern Ireland want to be sovereign nations? Much of Europe has begun to feel this way, with 27 member states and almost a dozen candidates and applicants to the European Union.
Here, in the United States, we are in the unique position of being a people united under one flag while having entirely different backgrounds and origins. We don the name “American” regardless of whether our ancestors came from Poland, Hungary, Korea, or Libya and are proud of it. Many of us feel some kinship toward our ancestors and their homelands, but as a whole we identify as Americans, whether we were born in Connecticut or Texas. As a nation, we have been a union since the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Constitution, but Europe seems to be the new ground for a powerful union to spring up. This drastic move by Scotland, however, has stirred things up, as many politicos and analysts wonder what place old world imperialism has in this day and age?
In Scotland’s case, one reason for their departure is that their debt, which is kept track of separate from the United Kingdom’s, is lower than that of the U.K. Because of that, they believe they stand a better chance on their own and managing their own debt rather than paying for everyone else’s. This, however, is not the only reason. Even in the 21st century, when the world has gotten smaller because of global communication, patriotism and national sentiments can still play an important role, and that is what is driving Scotland, and, soon enough, Ireland. Both of these nations were conquered centuries ago and taken in democratically afterward. While they have acclimated to being a part of the United Kingdom, there has been much anti-English sentiment.
The question of imperialism over nationalism has been a hard fought one in this part of the world, with no better example than The Troubles. A period of time from the 1960’s to around 1998, this was a time of violence between the strongly Unionist party, mostly formed of Protestants and the Nationalist party, which is mostly Catholic.
The Unionists wished to stay a part of the United Kingdom, while the Nationalists wished to reunite with the Republic of Ireland to the South. Although this time has technically ended, the IRA is still an active military group, usually cited as a terrorist organization and with much reason.
While it is true that a confederation like the European Union can grant strength and security to smaller nations, its greatest strength is in the individuality of those nations and those who represent them. The myriad of cultures, and people, brings new ideas that some cultures could never think of. For instance, most people remember trying to draw a tree when they were young. If you were me, at least, you would start out with a trunk, or maybe a puffball shape that you colored green to look like leaves, but invariably you were left with a front view of a tree. What if you were learning a language, however? Aboriginal children learning to read and write English drew apple trees, as they had seen in pictures when learning the language. However, when asked to draw a tree in their native tongue, not English, they would draw the native trees. Language itself can incredibly influence children, and therefore the culture. This can be a great boon to society, through the sharing of ideas and acceptance of other cultures, but if it is abused, entire cultures could disappear after several generations. This is where confederacy crosses the line into imperialism. Cooperation between nations is necessary, but I believe a strong sense of nationality and of cultural heritage is good for growth and prosperity; and not just the prosperity of one nation, but of all.
Read the other side of the story here.