In today’s world, the diversity and the separation of cultures is so intense, it is hard to believe that we all came from one place at one point in time. The idea of a cultural divide is something that humans have come up with themselves, and is ultimately causing many issues across the world. With this divide comes a strong sense of identity and pride for one’s country of inhabitance, but why? Although pride for one’s country can be good, many people have taken that to the extreme, and this tends to have a negative effect on the way we treat people from other nations. It seems that nationalism is growing in popularity nowadays, but it is crucial that the consequences of this mindset are made known in order to prevent extremists from hurting the relationships between the human race more so than they are now.
Nationalism is defined as a, “feeling that people have of being proud of their country and is often accompanied by the belief that it is better or more important than other countries.” The belief that one country is better than another is affecting many aspects of the quality of life for everyone. If everyone is supposed to have been created equal, it seems strange that people from one country might believe they are far better than someone from a different country.
Unfortunately, nationalism has the power to create competition between different nations, which can easily lead to war. Nationalism is known to be a significant cause of World War I. Prior to the beginning of World War I, Europeans had a lot of pride in their nation, and honestly believed they were the best. This thought process also lead to the belief that other nations were threatened by them, and were plotting their demise. World War I began due to the arguments of countries that were trying to take Bosnia and Herzegovina as their own. The war involved many allied nations, and affected a significantly larger amount of people, rather than just those from Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a report on effects of World War I, and as a result, over eight million people were killed, and there were approximately 37 million casualties (PBS). This war is a prime example of how nationalism can cause nations to be power hungry, and it shows the extent that people will go to just to have control over other nations.
Another consequence of nationalism is that it can easily lead to extreme movements. The most well known example of how nationalism can lead people to do extreme things is the creation of Nazism. Hitler’s love and pride for Germany sparked feelings in people that made them identify themselves completely with Germany, rather than as individuals. In an effort to convince citizens of conforming to his strong beliefs, Hitler proclaimed:
Our future is Germany. Our today is Germany. And our past is Germany. Let us take a vow this evening, at every hour, in each day, to think of Germany, of the nation, of our German people. You cannot be unfaithful to something that has given sense and meaning to your whole existence.
The belief that a nation is what gives meaning to someone’s existence is absurd. The emphasis on the important role of Germany to the people caused the Nazis to go to extreme measures, and lead to the death of millions of people.
The most commonly seen effect that nationalism has is the discrimination to members of other nations. Nationalism often causes nations to believe they are better than the nations that surround them. In the United States, there have been continuous issues regarding the Mexican border, and the arrival of “illegal immigrants” into the country. Prior to the actual border being built, the borders were just imagined. Carlton Hayes, an educator, claims that nationalism is simply a state of mind. He believes it is a “modern emotional fusion of two very old phenomena; nationality and patriotism.” When people come to other countries, the inhabitants there too often hostile and discriminatory to the visitors, which says something about how humanity is progressing.
The growing amount of nationalism in today’s world may end up having a damaging effect on humanity. The pride that people have for their nation can be positive, but it is often taken to the extreme, which has caused many issues throughout history. The idea that people are created equal has significantly dissipated, and if extreme nationalism continues, the future of humanity is in danger.