Chalk-line provocations

Imagine there’s no countries? John Lennon’s youngish but ageing hand rises up, his long-haired ideas swirling once more. The pic of him curled up naked around Yoko was a clever photograph, probably representative of many relationships where one person loves the other more and is nakedly dependent on him/her while the other half stares out in detached indifference. I don’t care about the man, I grew up with the Beatles occasionally playing in the background but think they are ever-so-slightly overrated – I only really dig two or three of their songs. Plus the conflicts that broke them up seem to mostly be by John’s hand and again, I’ve no time for people who profess to save the world while they treat the people immediately around them like shit. But suddenly after twenty-fiveish years of decrying his anti-everything, anti-religion, anti-nations, I suddenly like his unattainable idea of us all ditching the artificial constructs that turn cousins against each other and have very little use in a day-to-day, food-in-mouth sense: nationalism, religion, political spheres.

I’ll say it, not that this is all that controversial: the human race would be better off if the globe was not covered by nation states (countries) and ruled by them. What are countries if not an excuse to dismiss portions of our fellow people and not have to feel responsible for them? If I were my brother’s keeper as opposed to simply my Australian brother’s keeper, the Zimbabwean government would not be cowering under the cloak of sovereignty, the Taliban could not lock its women into cubicles, the diamond mines wouldn’t be such deathtraps. Injustice is untouchable simply because it happens tucked behind the borders of foreign countries?

Why does only one set of people benefit from gas and oil deposits when people a few hours away get nothing? These borders lock possessions into one place and keep people hemmed in like doomed cattle in others. I’ve taken that airplane trip and it’s utterly mind-boggling that things can be so different only a short ocean away. It’s not as if Mali, Bolivia, Tajikistan, Yemen, Haiti et al are light years’ distance from us, and yet only a couple thousand kilometres away from where we zap reheated dinners in microwaves and pay our bills online people have to dedicate a whole day of their workaday schedules to wash clothes by hand and queue up for days to get anything done.

We are raised to develop instinctive love for our countries and to rejoice in the downfall of others, yet how are Anglo-Saxon Aussies different from Anglo-Saxon Kiwis, really? Why should Bolivians distrust Peruvians so when they are no different from them at all? Isn’t Darwin much closer to Indonesia than it is to Perth, shouldn’t the Indonesians be more relevant to them?


Enough badgering, I’m not flash at debating-style writing and I’m too apathetic to ever win an argument. Somalia dove stateless into anarchy in the 1990s and that little nationless social experiment descended into copious amounts of war and violence, although curiously resulted in Somalia developing the best telecommunications in Africa.

This post, like many things but for the opposite reasons, was ‘inspired’ by the Olympics, by the gruesome sight of Sudanese Ismail Ahmed Ismail, silver medallist of the men’s 800-metre run, having no choice but to wave around the flag of the nation of Sudan on a lap of honour, the very symbol of a government who indirectly commits genocide against his own people in the infamous province of Darfur.

John Carlos, who raised one gloved fisted hand on the medal dais at the 1968 Olympics and ruined his life simply because he disowned the United States nation that had disowned his race, asked: “Why do you have to wear the uniform of your country? Why do they play national anthems? Why do we have to beat the Russians? Why do the East Germans want to beat the West Germans? Why can’t everyone wear the same colours but wear numbers to tell them apart? What happened to the Olympic ideal of man versus man?”

And yet I loved Paraguay beating Argentina in 2005; I loved the rivalry between the French and Italian soccer teams. My dream is to go to Paraguay and Mali, as opposed to going to some vague shapeless Guaraní-ville and Bambaraland. Despite everything, I gave a shit whether my fellow Australian Steph Rice won or not, that Adelaide United made the Asian Champions League Final last night. But why did I? What’s all that got to do with me?


2 thoughts on “Chalk-line provocations

  1. It sounds good, but would it really work that way? People might still get angsty about regions & religions and what would stop exploitation? I think we’re slowly working towards a globalised world but if the big businesses take advantage of free trade and all of that then they might end up ruling us, not the government.

    I know how you feel, I feel very proud when Australia gets somewhere in soccer, but really its meaningless. It doesn’t make me a better person.

  2. I’m not against regionalism developing; better that than just chucking two or three sets of people who don’t like each other into the same country, which generally doesn’t work. Even solid countries like Belgium hate their arrangement.

    But you’re right, without government regulation things would become very feudal, especially now that the businesses have taken over.

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