When it comes to sport I am an unabashed nationalist. There is something delicious about beating the English in cricket, the All Blacks at rugby and the US at anything- not that we’ve been doing much of that lately.
But there lies the problem with nationalism. While it may be relatively harmless when applied to sport it is not so benign in other ways. Nationalism is part of identity. Who am I? To whom do I belong? I belong to my family, my church, my State (especially at Stare of Origin time), my country, my planet, my God. The challenge is to keep these loyalties in proper relation to each other.
Why is it that when it comes to how we treat people outside our borders loyalty to nation always seems to trump loyalty to humanity? At the end of the day aren’t borders quite arbitrary things? Why do we suppose that goodness towards those beyond our borders is entirely optional?
Before we are Australian aren’t we are human? Isn’t that our most basic connection to each other? Yet in the current political climate we are rejecting asylum seekers, reneging on our foreign aid commitments, and going backwards on climate change. It’s all about what’s good for us Australians.
As I read the Gospels Jesus taught that God’s love extends to all and so should ours, that our neighbour is anyone in need. Imagine what would happen if rather than the national interest our foreign policy was conducted on the basis of the best interest of our foreign neighbours.