This is my second year living in China, and also my second year of living somewhere I do not traditionally call ‘home’ but still regard it as one. In these years I’ve met wonderful people from all different countries. My tongue feels well navigated in the thoughts of the North, South, East, and West of this planet’s inhabitants. But there is still one annoying attitude that keeps poisoning social interactions.
Recently I was at a bar in Shijiazhuang, with many expats clustered toward the back end. The alcohol paralleled the flow of conversations. Social lubrication is necessary when you are in a foreign land, because the global platform is rough and dangerous to navigate. Generally everyone was well behaved and discussed the menial drivel of Shijiazhuang pollution and ‘hey what do you do here?’ Later in the night a giant hunt commences amongst the expats to see who is DTF (I mean, if you want it, you can’t really be too fussy in China). It’s usually all well and good fun.
Then the wee hours of the night beckon a darker mood. The conversation started with defining the word ‘ignorant’ and ended with the same old ‘America/England/New Zealand/insertothercountryhere is the greatest, and fuck the rest of you’ chant.
I have seen the same argument happen countless times. In bars, clubs, house parties, coffee dates, picnics, work, play, any time of the day. It’s the same old hash of my country is better than yours because I love it so.
If this is how you think, then you’re an asshat.
Nationalism reflects the sheer dumb luck that you were born into one ridiculously tiny part of the planet, next to people who share a similar accent as you will inherit.
It is the essence of geography and nothing more.
The winning side is not who has the bigger gun, or who has the most money, or who cares most about the environment, or who genuinely feels for humanity, or who has the better life.
The winning side is one who can communicate ideas and emotions without calling into question the place in which others traditionally call ‘home’.
We are all raised upon dirt, don’t drag the power of your words through it.