Shideh, your story was lovely. And it really made me think about why it is so hard for us to let go, to free ourselves from attachment to a place, a person or a thing. As a sociologist, I’m constantly being trained to go deeper and question everything. Among all the subjects that we become trained in, culture somehow finds its way into all of them. We’re trained to analyze how culture shapes the meanings that people attach to things, why people from different cultures struggle with each other at times, and ultimately, why culture matters in the first place. Wouldn’t it just be easier to be a “citizen of the world”, having no attachments to nation-states, to boundaries, and to a particular group? The idealist in me says yes, the budding sociologist in me says no.
No because people have a need to feel as if they belong. And they have a need to feel needed. Nationalistic tendencies are just an expression of these needs. While attachments to lands, customs, and beliefs can in fact divide us (as history has shown time and time again), it can also become a uniting force. Imagine what a colorless world it would be if everyone shared one culture, one nation, one custom. There would be limited opportunities to become exposed to another way of life. To open your mind to new possibilities. To have your beliefs challenged. And to come out as a more understanding, intelligent and strong-willed individual.
Cultural exchange in Omani desert. A group of young women from Europe and the Arab world travel through the desert in Oman, in a project aimed at increasing cross-cultural dialogue. BBC News.