By P.R. Sarkar
The more the human mind becomes magnanimous or expanded, the more it rises above the sentiments of tribalism, communalism, provincialism, etc. Often I hear people say that nationalism is an appreciable sentiment and that there is no narrowness in it. But is this true? Nationalism is also relative, just like tribalism, communalism or provincialism. In some places it is more worthwhile than tribalism, communalism or provincialism, while in other places it is less worthwhile.
Let us consider, for example, the case of a Portuguese nationalist. The mental object of a Muslim communalist is certainly larger than that of a Portuguese nationalist, because the former desires the welfare of a greater number of people than the latter. This is because the number of Muslims in the world is greater than the number of Portuguese. Judged from this perspective, I cannot denounce the sentiments of a Muslim communalist in comparison to a Portuguese nationalist. Similarly, it has to be accepted that the sentiments of a Rajput casteist are broader than those of a Portuguese nationalist, because the former desires the welfare of more people than the latter. Likewise, the feelings of an Andhrite provincialist will have to be considered broader than those of a Portuguese nationalist. If one supports provincialism with seventy-five million Bengalees, it must be accepted that these feelings are more expanded than the nationalism of most of the nations of the world. (The population of most of the nations of the world is less than the population of Bengal.)
Hence it is observed that communalism, casteism, provincialism and nationalism are all of the same defective type. Those who are able to capitalize on one of these sentiments advocate it volubly. In fact, every one of these sentiments suffers from the defect of ism, and is completely filled with narrowness, violence, envy, mean mindedness, etc. Those who enter the field of social welfare by creating divisions between “yours” and “mine”, substantially widen the fissures of fissiparous intellect in human society.
Those who want to promote the welfare of all human beings, remaining above all sorts of parochial sentiments, have no alternative but to embrace universalism with their heart and soul – there is no other way. As universalism is totally devoid of any characteristic of ism, it is not proper to depict universalism as an ism. If everyone is looked upon as one’s own, no one remains beyond the periphery of one’s kith and kin. Naturally, then, there is no scope for violence, envy, narrowness, etc.
From Problems of the Day (1958)
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012