Studying the patterns in mythology has a way of changing the mind and one of the personal side effects of such research is that over the last few years, I’ve slowly ceased to believe in ‘countries’.
Society Versus Geography
When you look at mythology, you’re essentially looking at the cultural belief systems of a specific society. Societies don’t align well with “countries” however because they often traverse borders and people don’t fit neatly between such tidily drawn lines. Interestingly, in the questionably “good old days”, Gaelic society covered not only the island that we now call Ireland, but also parts of modern-day Scotland and a small part of Wales as well. That grouping was never defined as a country, however.
Nations and borders have always been something of an artificial construct, basically created in the past by ruling dynasties to maintain political power over a specific geographical territory. I can’t think of many examples where a country was actually established to represent the specific cultural population within its borders. Possible exceptions are those smaller ‘countries’ who broke away from larger ‘countries’ that didn’t represent their people or failed to recognise their culture difference (think Bosnia and Herzegovina and other states who broke up from Yugoslavia, East Timor which separated from Indonesia, etc. etc.). One of the key arguments raised with respect to the more recent Brexit scenario in the United Kingdom, is that many people believe the British Government no longer represents them. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. It’s a sobering fact to learn that 34 new countries have been created since 1990 and the patterns in mythology and anthropology suggest that particular process is never going to cease. Countries and empires are not static and it’d be foolish to think they are.
Questioning the Cult of Patriotism.
In general, the concept of a country seems to serve exclusive minorities because it allows a large population to be structured and controlled, often to their own detriment. That’s why some nationalist-minded governments (the new ruling classes) continue to condition their young, programming them to obtain an emotional response from a waving flag or the tune of a national anthem. People are essentially trained to be ‘patriots’, to love their country without questioning the origin of its establishment or the real costs of doing so.
In many modern western countries, we’re encouraged (from an early age) to adhere to a false concept – that we’re all part of some mutually beneficial collective or brotherhood. The reality of course is that there is huge inequality. Most of a “country’s” wealth is held by a very small number of its inhabitants. Human nature being what it is, most don’t want to share.
It’s true that some countries have populations of a very similar cultural background and heritage. Ireland was a classic example of this, particularly as our island status ensured a relatively consistent cultural system over the centuries. Northern Ireland, of course, was the major exception. Planted with a new population (‘new’ being a few hundred years ago) that had different belief systems to the existing population, it was inevitable that plantation created adversity and violence. It’ll take a few more generations to smooth that particular wrinkle out but it is inevitable (despite what politicians with their own agendas tell you).
When you see growing inequality within a nation, when your ‘countryman’ is more than happy to screw you for his own personal benefit, you really have to ask yourself if you want to be associated with that particular grouping?
If you’re someone who flies your national flag outside your house – something I’m guilty of myself in the past – you might want to consider the possibility that you’ve actually been duped. You don’t want to be the person who loves his country but hates more than 50% of the people in it.