The concept of a “country” in 2017 is, honestly, a pretty toxic thing.
There are some positives though.
They give us clear delineation for national sports teams, for example.
Regardless of that absolutely essential benefit, by and large, nationalism promotes racism and intolerance – and ultimately war.
Nationalism and “countries” as a concept allow us to dehumanize, murder and abuse each other. That a sad, but irrefutable fact.
The names of countries are absolutely charged with emotional baggage. Get yourself a large enough sample size and pick a red state in the US (or any other large group of humans, really) and see how they feel about Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Then repeat the process, ask them for the first things that come to mind when they hear Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.
The difference would be staggering, and yet we are all the same people.
Now take the same folks, ask them how they feel about the people at 34.8021° N, 38.9968 W
99% of people won’t have a clue where on Earth that actually is, but that doesn’t matter. Ask them what they think they’re probably like?
Good enough folk I’d bet. They probably have their own issues they’re working on but ultimately they’re likely nice enough people once you get to know them. They probably have a teenage daughter who is a bit of a pain in the ass, a son who they’re trying to keep “on the rails”, and a reasonably onerous mortgage they’re trying to get a handle on. They probably live in a modest house, maybe there is some crime in their neighborhood. They probably go to a public school, it’s alright but they wish their kids would apply themselves more.
It demonstrates the absolute idiocy of nationalism. Football stadiums in the UK are abhorrent, barbaric things. Humans ingesting as much alcohol as they can reasonably stomach and then attack each other because the human next to them is wearing the wrong colours.
Or we use words like “terrorism” and throw in the name of a country far away that we don’t understand like “Syria”, and use that to dehumanize to the point at which mothers are more than happy to send their children to war to kill the “bad guys” and “keep us safe”.
“Those Syrians are evil terrorists and they need to die, we need to kill them for the safety of everyone!”
Did you know that people that live near 37° N, 95° W shot each-other more than 107,000 times in 2013? (Wikipedia) They are literally murdering the shit out of each-other right now.
They’re terrorizing good folk! Those 37,95vers are probably Islam lovers – I’ve heard about them on the news. They’re bad hombres!
Send in the Marines
When you’re shooting people in your own country apparently it’s fine, but on the minute chance someone that doesn’t live near 37° N, 95° W kills someone that does it’s time to launch the jets.
Nationalism ties into everything and it is incredibly toxic.
We are brought up to love our country. Our flag is the best and our country is the greatest country on earth. That’s a really nice story – but that’s all it is. It’s an absolute fiction that hurts a lot more than it helps.
I love New Zealand, I think it is a fantastic location on earth. The people are amazing, the landscape is mind-blowingly sublime. I feel a little funny in my stomach when I see the New Zealand flag and I get a little emotional when I see the haka.
New Zealand is not the greatest country on Earth – that title is a shame worthy of no country.
Earth is our planet, we’re all human beings and we need to pull our heads in, drink a little bit less of the Kool-Aid, and realize we’re all in this together.
Syrians (The good people of 35° N, 39 W) are no different from your God-fearing neighbor Bob who has that car you like, the pretty wife and the great kids. You’ve always liked Bob.
LGBT folks are just like Bob, too.
We’re all Bob, man.