Unified by a cause and a value system…

A nation is not defined by its borders or the boundaries of its land mass Rather, a nation is defined by adverse people who have been unified by a cause and a value system and who are committed to a vision for the type of society they wish to live in and give to the future generations to come.

Tara Fela-Durotoye (b. 1977)

10 thoughts on “Unified by a cause and a value system…”

  1. Thanks David for taking the time to respond. But I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I accept that the values disparate groups strive towards can be the same, fundamental ones. My point though is that they don’t have to be, and for that reason they cannot be what define a ‘nation’. My worry is that once we try to posit something other than shared laws and boundaries as the criterion of what members of a nation have in common we can start getting into dangerous territory. Who decides what that ‘something’ is? Who has the power to decide that it’s this and not that? This set of values and not this set of values?

    This seems to me what nationalism is about, and how it can take hold. There are times when nationalism can be a force for good, or at least a means to a desired end, for example to galvanise a community to overthrow a tyranny. But it’s a double-edged sword, and IMHO best avoided wherever possible.

    What worries me about that original quote is that it might read OK as an empty formula, but once you start filling it with content – this value and not that one, this vision and not that vision – it can become a recipe for division.

    Or maybe I’m still just reeling from Brexit!

    1. Chris, thanks so much for your thoughtful response – I deeply appreciate it.

      My worry is that once we try to posit something other than shared laws and boundaries as the criterion of what members of a nation have in common we can start getting into dangerous territory.

      But this exists, Chris. You may think that it’s dangerous territory, and you may be right, but the fact remains that many people around the world identify with particular nations that are unrelated to the countries that they reside in.

      You can’t wish it away… it’s human nature. People aren’t going to magically assimilate into the culture of the countries they reside in and dissociate from their national identities. So – members of those groups can attempt to steer them in positive directions. To me, that’s more realistic.

  2. Whst image of man do we see cast before us in our present times?
    Answer: Misanthropic
    We live in world that thinks humanity is the worst thing that happened to it, I find the whole thing rather sad.

    1. We live in world that thinks humanity is the worst thing that happened to it, I find the whole thing rather sad.

      I wouldn’t say that of the whole world, but I do agree with you that many people think so… and it makes me sad too.

      😦
      David

  3. I’m afraid I cannot agree with that quote. Unless perhaps it is trivially true, in the sense that the range of causes and value systems and visions and so on which are found within any particular nation at any particular time can be treated (but for what reason?) as sufficiently alike for their differences not to matter. But that seems meaningless, and can hardly be anything for a nation to be ‘defined by’.
    If however the quote is taken as having any substantive content then it seems to me not only false, but dangerously false. Who decides what is the shared cause, value system and vision? And if you do not share them does that mean you do not belong in that nation, even if you have a right to live within its boundaries and obey its laws?

    1. in the sense that the range of causes and value systems and visions and so on which are found within any particular nation at any particular time can be treated (but for what reason?) as sufficiently alike for their differences not to matter.

      Chris, personally, I don’t see why this couldn’t be the case. As I see it, human beings are animals with big brains – we’re tribal by nature. The “nation” is just another level of tribalism (“family” is another such level). We organize ourselves into groups of various sizes because that’s how we’re wired… but that’s not to say that the values disparate groups strive towards can’t be the same, fundamental ones.

      Who decides what is the shared cause, value system and vision? And if you do not share them does that mean you do not belong in that nation, even if you have a right to live within its boundaries and obey its laws?

      I would say that is a something that becomes evident over time, and obviously nobody can summarize such a complex idea in one quote of several lines. Within every nation there are different subgroups that attempt to advance their agendas, which makes it hard to pinpoint one easy-to-define set of values at any given time… but… I would think that looking back at the history of a nation would give one a sense of its values.

      As for boundaries and laws, that’s specifically not what this quote is about. She specifies that a nation is NOT about “boundaries” and “borders”.

      ❀
      David

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