There are numerous totally different species on the floor of this planet. One in every of these is the human race, which has over seven billion members. In a single sense, there are not any nations, simply teams of people inhabiting totally different areas of the planet. In some circumstances, there are pure borders shaped by sea or mountains, however usually borders between nations are merely abstractions, imaginary boundaries established by settlement or battle.
Rusty Schweikhart, a member of the 1969 Apollo 9 house mission, defined how when he seemed on the Earth from house, he skilled a profound shift in perspective. Like most of us, he was introduced as much as suppose by way of international locations with borders and totally different nationalities, however seeing the world from this special approach modified his view. He felt “a part of everybody and all the pieces”. As he described it:
You look down there and you’ll’t think about what number of borders and bounds you cross, time and again and once more, and also you don’t even see them.
Schweikhart’s perspective reminds us that we belong to the Earth reasonably than to a nation, and to a species reasonably than a nationality. And though we would really feel distinct and totally different, all of us have a typical supply. Our species initially developed in jap Africa round 200,000 years in the past and migrated out into the remainder of the world in a collection of waves. If there was an ancestry web site that would hint our lineage again to the very starting, we’d discover that all of us have the identical great-great (adopted by many different “greats”) grandparents.
How then will we clarify nationalism? Why do people separate themselves into teams and tackle totally different nationwide identities? Perhaps totally different teams are useful by way of organisation, however that doesn’t clarify why we really feel totally different. Or why totally different nations compete and battle with each other.
The psychological idea of “terror administration” gives one clue. This idea, which has been validated by many research, reveals that when individuals are made to really feel insecure and anxious, they have an inclination to change into extra involved with nationalism, standing and success. We appear to have an impulse to cling to labels of identification to defend ourselves towards insecurity. There has, nevertheless, been criticism of the idea by some psychologists who consider it overlooks wider elements that contribute to human behaviour.
That mentioned, the idea may go a way to assist clarify why nationalism grows in instances of disaster and uncertainty. Poverty and financial instability usually result in elevated nationalism and to ethnic battle. An elevated sense of insecurity brings a stronger want for conceptual labels to strengthen our sense of identification. We additionally really feel the impulse to realize safety by means of the sensation of belonging to a bunch with shared beliefs and conventions.
On this foundation then it’s possible that individuals who really feel the strongest sense of separation and the very best ranges of insecurity and nervousness, are essentially the most vulnerable to nationalism, racism and to fundamentalist faith.
One pertinent discovering from my very own analysis as a psychologist is that individuals who expertise excessive ranges of wellbeing (along with a robust sense of connection to others, or to the world typically) don’t are likely to have a way of group identification.
I’ve studied many individuals who’ve undergone profound private transformation following intense psychological turmoil, corresponding to bereavement or a prognosis of most cancers. I typically refer to those individuals as “shifters”, since they seem to shift as much as the next stage of human growth. They endure a dramatic type of “post-traumatic development”. Their lives change into richer, extra fulfilling and significant. They’ve a brand new sense of appreciation, a heightened consciousness of their environment, a wider sense of perspective and extra intimate and genuine relationships.
As I report in my ebook, The Leap, one of many widespread traits of “shifters” is that they now not outline themselves by way of nationality, faith or ideology. They now not really feel they’re American or British, or a Muslim or a Jew. They really feel the identical kinship with all human beings. If they’ve any sense of identification in any respect, it’s as international residents, members of the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth – past nationality or border. Shifters lose the necessity for group identification as a result of they now not really feel separate and so haven’t any sense of fragility and insecurity.
Why we want trans-nationalism
For my part, then, all nationalistic enterprises – corresponding to “America First” or Brexit – are extremely problematic, as they’re primarily based on nervousness and insecurity, so inevitably create discord and division. And since nationalism contravenes the important actuality of human nature and human origins, such enterprises at all times transform non permanent. It’s inconceivable to override the basic interconnectedness of the human race. In some unspecified time in the future, it at all times reasserts itself.
Just like the world itself, our most severe issues haven’t any borders. Issues just like the COVID-19 pandemic and local weather change have an effect on us collectively and so can solely be solved collectively – from a trans-nationalist method. Such points can solely be correctly solved by viewing people as one species, with out borders or boundaries.
In the end, nationalism is a psychological aberration. We owe it our ancestors and to our descendants – and to the Earth itself – to maneuver past it.
Steve Taylor doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.