Should Nation be the Foundation of Identity?
Addie Lee Hobbins
Everybody has a nation in which they belong to. Some people may belong to more than just one. A nation is built by individual identities from the people who belong to it. The desire to belong is one of the strongest desires that a person can feel. The way they are built is different between each nation. For example, Canada is a very diverse Country which is made up of people of different descents. Canada focuses more on reasonable accommodation over assimilation. The United States however believes more in civilizing their immigrants to become American citizens. The nation is the soul of the people and to become a nation you develop a self government. Nation should be the foundation of identity.
Patriotism can be understood as ones love to their country. Patriotism is shown in many forms of behavior including loyalty. These form emotions which give you a sense of identity from your nation. Waving to the Canadian soldiers who have served in Afghanistan shows your love, your patriotism and your loyalty. Canadian soldiers ensure our safety in the war on terrorism. They are here to help bring safety and security to us and also to people outside of Canada. For many people, pride is felt when celebrating a countries coming of age. It gives people a sense that when the country unites they are then able to achieve many great things. It gives a pride in “us”. An example of this may be the Battle of Vimy Ridge which took place on April 9, 1917 during World War I. During the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canadian soldiers fought with the British forces under a Canadian commander for the first time ever. A vital military position was awarded that the British and French army had failed to capture. Another example would come from the storming of the Bastille prison by hundreds of Parisians to free their people locked up by the king. They took control of this symbol of tyranny and this event is now celebrated as a national holiday in France and is considered to be the beginning of the French Revolution. In simpler terms this holiday marks a major turning point for France. A third example is how new Canadians are encouraged to celebrate their citizenship with an official Citizenship Week, during this event, Canadians across the country are encouraged to reflect on the value of citizenship, what it means to be Canadian and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. I believe that the citizens of our nation enjoy freedoms and life styles and are thankful to the previous generations who fought for the peace and safety of our country and it’s future generations. The way nations celebrate important historical events such as, the birth of a country, or the support of its military, serving in other countries give us a strong sense of patriotism. Patriotism is a major contributor to your individual identity.
A Nation can be referred to as a collective concept, in other words, a group. These can include your family, your school and can even go as far as other collectives such as linguistic, religious and social collectives. Even though not all of these collectives form what is referred to as the basis of nation, the collective identity is an essential part of nation. Nation can be linked with the linguistic understanding. A common language can create such a powerful sense of belonging that it inspires a sense of nation. It also helps to create a shared worldview. For example, most of Canada’s provinces are first language English, with the exception of Quebec being a first language French speaking province. Quebec has struggled with keeping their distinct language alive up until Bill 101 was passed. With English, being spoken as a first language in every other province in Canada made Quebec almost seem to feel like an outcast. Language is key to the sense of belonging and feeling as part of that nation. Samuel Johnson who was the first person to compile the English dictionary once said, “Languages are the pedigrees of nation.” He also stated that “Language plays an important role in creating a mindset of a distinct people because language influences how people see the world.”
Nation can become a foundation of identity when people are given the experience to represent their entire nation. During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, Canadians came together as one nation even though we have different cultures and first languages across our country. The Olympics are also another example of how people from around the world come together in the spirit of sport to celebrate competition and support their nation. These global games are broadcasted around the world to allow all nations and their citizens to cheer on their athletes and countrymen. This event creates a great deal of pride and patriotism for many nations. Shawn White, who became an Olympic gold medal champion, trained for many years to have a chance to represent his own nation, the United States of America. Shawn White became an American sports hero, and is now very recognizable by people around the world.
Although everyone belongs to a nation, many people from different nations can be grouped together by heritage, such as; being identified as a Canadian with Danish decent. This type of grouping brings together two distinct nations.
In summary, the examples and facts presented above prove that a nation’s foundation is very important to understanding its identity, but not the only factor for identity.
Social Studies Exploring Nationalism class textbook