I found this quotation recently on Andrew Sullivan’s blog from 12th century theologian-philosopher Hugo St. Victor:
The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man extinguished his.
This came as a reassuring message to me, as I’ve always felt like something of a stranger in a strange land. I’m from Harrison, Arkansas, but not of it. I live in New York City but it’s just as foreign to me.
The same statement could be applied to race and religion. Race, place and religion are the primary causes of war. While I lament the homogenization of America, the loss of native languages and cultural practices, I realize that for everything we lose culturally, we gain peace.
What divides us is what defines us. As in my previous post, if I say, “I’m an Arkansan,” then that’s 49 implied statements about the states I’m not from. Ideally, we should not give objective preference to any one place or race (or religion but that’s much harder to do); we should only recognize them as subjective preferences, personal to our life experiences. Pride of race, place or religion may help give people confidence and identity, but they lose a greater understanding of the world at large in the process.
1.) Plus all the lovely inferences and assumptions that come with making that statement.