January 19th, 2005 @ 1:19 PM
I just had a chat with someone we shall refer to as “the patriot,” which got me thinking about this subject. Most of us hard core ex-pats who truly try to integrate with the host culture often find ourselves in a complex situation. We have come to understand the host so well and many times even married into it. The patriot told me that we must always be patriotic to our native country or turn in our passports. Yet what would happen if the native country and host country collided?
Most “patriots” do not find any problems with foreigners becoming American but may be seen as strange or in a worst case senario a traitor if they became a citizen of another country and turned in their passports for a host country passport. This issue can raise a lot of emotions but the question is why in most cases does it only work one way?
For us in Japan that have integrated as much as the host culture will allow, we often do not agree with certain aspects of our native country and find some things actually better or “good” (even though it’s all relative) in the host country but according to the “patriot” we should always be completely patriotic even if we do not agree with the points we deem “bad” in our native culture.
The majority of travellers to foreign lands do not integrate to the point many of the hard core ex-pats have, and thus their numbers are small and some of their ideas will not agree with the mainstream simply due to statistics.
So I would like to get some feedback on these specific questions:
1. Is it possible to become so integrated with the host country that one turns in their American ( or another country’s)passport and not be seen as “strange” or in worst case senario a “traitor?” Why does this only work one way in the case of Asians coming to America and becoming American not being “strange” but if an American became a citizen of another country there is a certain stigma associated with it? In terms of Algebra, if x plus y equals z, doesn’t it also hold true that y plus x will also equal z?
2. Why does the idea of nationalism hold so strong even though it is commonly accepted that to understand others and integrate is a good thing so long as it’s not to far and ideas do not change too much. I find it impossible to integrate if I do not let go of some formerly held ideas and incorporate new ones. Integration is like mixing black and white paint which turns gray. We cannot integrate black and white and keep them seperate at the same time. That would simply not be integration.
3. If we look at history, nations come and go with the tides of time and different cultures become one. Yet we each live a relatively short life but instead of looking at the immensity of time and the change it brings we cling to our current culture, land, nation with ferocity. If I deconstruct my own, my loyalty would be American, then Ohioan (in some schools), then British, then Irish, then Gaelic, then some small tribe waiting to be overtaken by the Celts. Also, there is some polish in there so we have to deconstruct that and why should I not be loyal to those tribes as well? Throw in Geography for good measure and we were all one land at one point which seperated due to tectonics. So if we consider time, groups of people and land continually change and therefore if we were able to be immortal our loyalty would continually change.
Thus to be loyal to one nation, culture, population, we must forget that these continually change over time. So we focus on the now, and get our beliefs from the current grouping of people and possibly land we were born on. These beliefs will contradict that which other groups find “good” or “correct,” and to be truly loyal we must not try to understand their ideas since it might change some of our currently held beliefs. It’s easy for most of us to deconstruct or loyalties and still retain them yet why can we not be “forward thinking” and anticipate that cultures and nations will inevitably mix over thousands of years (if we don’t destroy ourselves first) and classify ourselves as avant-garde in integrating completely with other cultures to the point that it causes major conflict since our host country and native country have not integrated as of yet.
Therefore, I thought this would be a good debate for the hardcore ex-pat community since most do not travel and even less are able to integrate completely (or as much as possible). Those that do not integrate will be the most likely to call the integrator a traitor if he or she surrendered their passport. However, those that read this blog should be able to spark a much more lively debate then those who have not given integration a shot.