Lately, there has been quite the brouhaha in the country around the idea of Patriotism, more so around Nationalism. Contrary to popular belief, there is a gulf of difference between the two. A gulf so wide, that when so often people use the two almost for quite the conundrum.
There has been an ongoing fiasco, wherein many people have been generously given unsolicited tickets to the neighboring nation, as a mark of protest against what’s perceived as their ‘Anti-Indian’ rhetoric.
Mr. Aamir Khan spoke emphatically against the vices and ills that corrupt this nation, his nation. Sadly, the backlash didn’t come as much of a surprise to many. Mr. Khan faced a plethora of venom, from various fronts, was asked to leave the country, given names, had countless jibes taken on his religion, so on and so forth. While many debated and on the semantics of his statement, and how he could’ve used better language to express his fears, one thing was abundantly clear: his opinion was born out of concern for the country; fear for the country and not of it. But many began hating on him at the drop of a hat, it was almost like seeing his words take a long leap and begin to allegorically portray his fears as actual people, unable to ‘tolerate’ his unmistakably harmless comments.
Mr. Shah Rukh Khan spoke ardently about the same issue and also mentioned how whenever he voices his opinion on something, many a people take to burning his effigies, threaten to stall his movie release etc. Irony died a million silent deaths when people, in an attempt to rebut him, went on to do those exact things. The sad part is, a very similar outrage was witnessed 2 years ago when he poured his heart out in a blog titled- ‘What it means to be a Muslim in India’. What ensued was unprecedented hatred and extremely nauseating venom spewing against the man.
Mr. Khan has every right to speak about what it means to be a Muslim in India without it making him any less of an Indian.
So much for Indianism, but a little more. There is this constant binary reading that we indulge in. If you are anti one particular party, you are ‘anti-Indian’, even better, sometimes you are termed ‘anti-Hindu’. If you are anti one government, you are automatically assumed to be pro the opposition.
This immediate name-calling and need to compartmentalize we witness when the government is critiqued, reminds me of a quote by Ron Paul,
“Real patriotism is the willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.”
Let’s get one thing clear, nationalism has nothing to do with blindly doting the government. It has everything to do with loving your country enough to try and redeem it of its vices, yes- the first step being, acknowledging that there are, in fact, plenty of them.
Nationalism may be defined as a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a nation. However, it doesn’t, or shouldn’t endorse the notion of a collectivist, monolithic, aggressive and xenophobic nation. Sadly, a lot of people have recently been adhering to the latter. It’s fascinating how M.K Gandhi managed to almost foresee the current state of affairs about a century ago. He said, “My patriotism isn’t an exclusive thing. It is all-embracing and I should reject that patriotism which sought to mount upon the distress or exploitation of other nationalities.” This stands as an eye-opener to all those who passionately hate Pakistan, not merely it’s army or government, but the whole of Pakistan, as if it is an amorphous mass, and not made of normal people, like you and I.
Praise the praiseworthy, condemn the condemnable, regardless of the national territory it occurs in. The service to humanity is the highest goal one should strive to achieve, and no sort of nationalism should come in the way of it. My nation’s ideals are never to be at loggerheads with the ideals of humanity, and so should no one else’s.