After last week’s class, I couldn’t help but continue to wonder about nationalism, and what definition of nationalism I derive for myself. As someone who has grown up in the United States his entire life, I was handed a pretty narrow definition of the nation and the nation state. I think that as a United States Citizen growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I was surrounded by this very clear-cut understanding of the “nation state,” even though nobody in my podunk town would have ever used such language to describe it that way. I think that it’s difficult sometimes to wrap your head around such ideals because of your level of exposure to the outside world. Growing up in a small town, I believe there are two kinds of people: Those with a knowledge and understanding of the world that is simple, albeit limited, one in which the “world” only incorporates a 10-mile radius; and those kind of people that seek out other cultural understandings of the world, and know there has to be more diversity than white, middle-class and Republican.
And as shameful as it is to admit, there are still members in my family who have never left that 10-mile radius, and who probably never will. To put it ever-so-nicely, there is a vacuum of information (or rather, misinformation) that occurs in many rural areas of the country. It is, what I like to call, a “nation of ignorance.” And I’ve often wondered if two similar groups of people with a similar upbringing, but from different areas, would harbor the same sentiments on a lot of issues. Let’s say a group from my hometown, and another from an equally rural town in Wyoming or Kansas. I wonder how well these two subnations would get along. And then I got to thinking, are these farflung “nations” of people just the voter base of the tea party? (It’s okay to laugh, I grinned when I wrote it.)
But in all seriousness, is the notion of the “nation” just another way of saying “class,” “race,” or any other identifier that subdivides people. Don’t we share experiences from a multitude of places? Should we feel bad for those whom extract comfort and pleasure from shared experiences with others just like themselves?