NOTE: The opinions expressed in “Opinionist” columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Shanghaiist.
After logging on to various networking sites and instant messengers this week I started to see a similar sentence attached to a number of handles and headers. They were all some variation on the following idea: China is my adopted country, I love it here but recent events in Tibet are giving me a moral headache.
I have given this idea a lot of thought myself, but what struck me was the relative lack of variations on this similar idea: The UK/USA is my country, I like it there but recent events in Iraq are giving me a moral headache. We could go on, using any number of neo-colonial conflicts or policies in the world today.
As a UK citizen I can look back and see that Zimbabwe only became independent in 1980, for example. Then there was the Falklands War and then bombs have been falling on Iraq non-stop from 1990 until present. The awarding of the Olympics to London is no less controversial than to Beijing. No less controversial to me. I feel for the civilian victims of all authoritarian violence regardless of its reason, real or stated.
In the future, our time will be named and dated just like any other part of recorded history. What kind of era do we live in? We live in an era where the entire world’s surface is mapped and known, divided up and owned. We live in the time of nation states and its unavoidable mode of thought: nationalism. A time of borders, VISAs, passports and IDs. Nation states function as mental, as well as physical, prisons for us all. To talk about the world of nation states is to talk in terms of nationalism.
The Lhasa riots should give us a headache. The five year anniversary of the full invasion of Iraq should make us think. Darfur should make us think, as should Palestine. But instead of getting pulled into a web of personalities, excuses, sovereign powers, comparison and denial: let’s think about all suffering in our single human race, all born into one natural world. Then perhaps we can move towards the next era.
This month is the five year anniversary of the full invasion of Iraq.
Have you got an opinion? On selected weekends, Shanghaiist will publish an opinion piece from readers or site contributors. If you feel like you’ve got something to get off your chest, email it to us at info AT shanghaiist DOT com and if we like it, we will publish it under this column. All views expressed by writers under this column are their own and do not indicate any official position taken by Shanghaiist.