Sunday 18th February 2018 | Blog #5 Always about nationality
Where ever we have been, nationality comes up quickly – not surprising as one of us is always a foreigner. A person from a strange distant land. At some point, it seems it’s always about nationality…
Once it comes up, there’s a weird mix of curiosity, concern and competition. “Oh you do that, weeeelll, this is how we do it!” … “Oh, you don’t have that over there…well we have it”. It can be pretty meaningless, generally funny but at times is just annoying. It picks out glaringly oblivious points, reinforces stereotypes and can even be a bit of an icebreaker. But…at times is just annoying.
Is it who we are, or who we want to be?
On one level you could consider what nationality means. Is it simply a ‘brand’? That people from this land adhere to this brand. Proclaim it as the only and best way. Or, is it something which everyone plays a part in building up over generations, actively working to mould it. Or, do we stumble along year after year clumsily and collectively forming a self-image of what we believe we are? Perhaps both. Perhaps there’s a longer blog article there?
For now, I simply wanted to highlight it. To agree that yes, I am from one place and unless you are one of a relatively small group of people, you are probably from somewhere else. Much as we have different hair, probably eat different food, live in different climates, speak different languages and are in all sorts of ways – different. We might just still get along. Perhaps even enjoy those differences. We can laugh that in the UK we call it aluminium, and in the US you say it wrong. Because, as Biffy Clyro said “…there’s an ‘I’ next to the ‘U’ and ‘M’”.
(Oh and wait I’m in Australia…and came from the UK. So the food, language, clothes, beliefs and erm…most things are pretty similar. Not exactly the same, but not far from it. The weather is admittedly different, but I was never a sun-seeker anyway.)
Perhaps it’s like football?
The best is if you manage to level-up and get past the ‘us vs you’ comparisons and on to why you like this and that, and why you want to try something else. In a similar way, I never liked talking about football as I was growing up. I loved playing and watching it. But talking about it? Not really. “Yes, my team did a splendid job kicking the ball today, really lovely. Nice shirts too…” Maybe because ultimately, as much as we might discuss it, we have no impact whatsoever on the reality of the team. If they win, great, I’ll bathe in their glory. If they don’t…I’ll probably change channel. No harm done.
Nationality is a little similar in this context. In sport, it can be tribal. One team and one team only. Now put my blindfold on and let me enjoy the game. In reality, I love playing and watching because I love that game. Because trying something else doesn’t mean you don’t like the thing you don’t have. Just as going somewhere else doesn’t mean you don’t like where you’ve come from. Sometimes it’s simply that change can be enjoyable.
I love the place I’m from and I look forward to going back in some way in the future. I feel comfortable and confident in where I’m from but I want to learn about other places and people too. This above all else is a catalyst for me doing new things. I want to build on what has come before me, to continue and contribute to the story.
It’s a funny topic
As a note, it seems the confusion seems to come mostly with a lack of interaction. Of intermingling with those you don’t know. That’s logical in some way. In a very straightforward way. But we’re human, and not very straightforward, so it’s actually just a bit of rubbish cheap logic. The most competitive comparisons of difference come with the least interaction. The strongest assertions of nationality come when there really isn’t a challenge to it. It obviously comes up politically all the time – but that’s for another blog.
Religion, politics and sex shouldn’t, ‘they say’ be discussed in polite company…that may be the case. But they’re all interesting things to talk about. So over time, as I get more comfortable writing here, I’m sure I’ll indulge. In the meantime, feel free to comment and add to the thoughts flowing.