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Our split identities

Today, I had a chance to meet Judge Robert Watt, an appointed Citizenship Judge for Vancouver, BC. Yes, you guessed it, I got the honor to sing “O Canada, our home and native land” together with him, my family and 77 other immigrants to Canada — who like us, have come to this country about 4-5 years ago, leaving their home land, extended families, even parents, brothers and sisters, seeking a better life!

As Judge Robert was using his charming baritone and inspiring words to warm our hearts giving us one of the best motivational speeches I have ever listened to and congratulating us on our wise choice to pick Canada as our new home, I started thinking — Why is it that we care so much which piece of land we are going to call home country? Is there an intrinsic value that one could claim when choosing to “belong” to this and not another part of the world?

“Albania, Argentina, Bangladesh, …, Macedonia, Myanmar, … United Stated of America, Vietnam” — Judge Robert’s voice still echoes in my head, as he was reading the 24 countries we, the 77 immigrants, called our home land before coming to Canada … 24 countries!! … What a diversity! … I still can’t grasp the grandeur of this number … it means that there were very few countries represented with more than one family in  that room today … For real, the diversity is striking! … It made me appreciate the total number of countries in the world! 😉

I understand the historical reasons for building states around various patches of land, but what fails my logic is why the states are ever so important in this brave new and flat world of interconnectedness? Why do we still swear allegiance to a patch of land symbolized with a piece of cloth and an old song and feel we’re behaving treacherous when accepting a new piece of cloth to wave when going to a sports match?!

I started with this blog almost a year ago on January 24, 2010. I don’t know the total number of countries from which I got at least one visitor in the past year, but I do know the number for the past few months — 88 countries from all continents and from almost every corner of the world:

People from 88 countries have visited this blog between November 16, 2010 and January 14, 2011

What is striking about this is not that my words have been able to reach to a lot more countries than I could ever dream visiting — and I’ve done a good share — but that my readers do not seem to care that I am based in Canada and they do not seem to discriminate what they read online based on allegiance to a colorful icon on my little map above!

Yet, time and again, that colorful icon can pack such an intense feeling of belonging that no emotion in our mind is spared when it hits us! … Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, that power is used to bring people against each other! 😦

It seems to me that lately many people are living a dual life! One interconnected with the rest of the world at a level at which the state symbols have no more power than an average image or song has. Another within the walls of the patch of land we call home country, in which the state symbols can drive our emotions into overdrive and make us feel different from — and often above 😦 — the rest of the world.

I am not naive and understand there are places where people are far from the interconnectedness me and my readers enjoy. Still, there are a lot more opportunities today to connect with those people — through donations, activism and other opportunities that are sometimes even possible from the comfort of our homes! I also doubt that they would discriminate the people offering help by their allegiance to a certain state!

Just wondering out loud here — what if our computers and all servers on the Internet suddenly gave up allegiance to any state and all of a sudden we all show as a single bright light on my little map above? After all, unlike the traditional mail from the past, when sending emails, reading Facebook updates or sending tweets to our followers, we’re not required to enter the country where the people on the receiving end may be at the moment we send our message!

I’d like to see a revolution forcing the browser makers in collaboration with the Internet providers to add a choice in the browser’s settings to turn off the country discrimination (without having to resort to complex and unreliable proxy solutions commonly used to hide one’s identity) and pledge allegiance to Earth instead. It would be great to see a new flag showing up on all the Internet tracking tools — one I wish would over time trump all of the other flags!

I didn’t come to Canada with a goal to become Canadian — that was listed in the bonus page of the immigration package I was offered. 😉 Instead, I came to seek for new opportunities. Unfortunately, the opportunities me and many similarly minded people are after are not possible without a solid government as a basic framework for their realization and the only such governments in the world are those tied to some traditional state like Canada!

Still, taking oath to become a citizen of some such traditional state doesn’t prevent us from pledging our allegiance to our home Earth and make more room for the interconnected part of our lives to lead us into the future — one in which I hope to see no borders preventing people from enjoying opportunities anywhere on this planet — or even outside of it! 😉

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  1. January 18, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Kima, Congratulations on your Canadian citizenhip, I am impressed at your outlook toward your new status!! I too have wondered time and again how this Internet connectivity has changed my perception about a lot of things, I keep thinking how the Chinese, Middle East and a few Asian countries including North Korea deal with limited to no Internet exposure at all – at least a vast majority of their population!!
    Congratulations on the one year anniversary 😉 and on the number of visits, hope all the 260(?) countries visit you soon 🙂
    Have a great week ahead!
    Rachana

    • January 19, 2011 at 1:38 am

      Thanks Rachana!! You won’t believe me that I started this post with different perspective — admittedly still under the conditioning from the motivational speech by the judge 😉 — but as I was writing I clarified my feelings and thoughts 😉

      My one year anniversary is exactly in 5 days so I hope to have something posted at that time to celebrate 😉 … honestly, though, I am most grateful for engaging with readers, especially those like you that I feel free to call friends, though we never met!!

      Thanks for your ongoing support and feedback! I am really grateful you stumbled upon my nature/nurture thoughts and decided to start a discussion 😉 Enjoy!

  2. Vladimir
    January 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Kima,
    I love reading your posts (whenever I get the time for that)!
    Nice challenging questions answered quite smartly, and what is more important there is a nice flow of thought throughout your writings!

    So I think that the continuance of this post would be a WORLD (EARTH) GOVERNMENT – an exciting idea, at least for me 🙂 But a bit of history on how previously non-existing governments are born, a war/conflict usually, scares me as much as the idea excites me!

    Also interesting is how some countries would let you have just one other citizenship for a total of two. Which is quite strange, why a limit?
    All the best!

    • January 16, 2011 at 2:04 am

      Thanks Vladimir!! I am so happy you decided to comment and post your thoughts as my blog is really about provoking and sharing thoughts 😉

      I am excited about the idea of a World (Earth) Government too, though I would like to see the role of the government redefined and definitely more open — otherwise I would share the same concerns with you

      Your comment made me curious what is the maximum number of citizenship possible and it seems that with luck one could get 3 — usually some combination of the countries you and your parents are born — but only with a limited list of countries. I did see someone claiming 4 on some forum but couldn’t find anyone with 5 or more. It seems there’s no cap at international level and it really depends on the countries you target and their requirements, so you’re right when you say the limit is strange.

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