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Nationalism and Patriotism: Why being personal is Okay!

Recently, one investor told me: Suman, you are being unnecessarily personal and emotional for these people - 1.2 Billion Bhartiya. And, at that point, I had no answer because I was not pitching Jile Health from that lens. After the meeting, I added this question to the sheet. The answer struck my mind in the morning - this essay is the answer.

But we must add some context and history before answering that question - let's get started! :)

I see people getting confused between Nationalism and Patriotism quite often, even though both are poles apart. I am not a fan of Nationalism (you can find proof of that in my past essays), in fact, I understand that the blind belief in Nationalism is unhealthy for humanity. However, having a fundamental understanding of Nationalism and Patriotism might prevent this massive confusion - we can understand both through an example.

Let’s say I support Nationalism, this means I will be motivated to say Long live India (Hindustan Zindabad), and I will also be motivated to say Die Pakistan, China, Bangladesh etc. Now, this seems odd because we humans have evolved from a single-cell species in 3.8 billion years: our chemical construct in the physical object is almost the same. And if we look at History (Recorded History: 5000 years), we shall realise that the progress of human civilization has been the by-product of forming a personal connection with the tribe, fighting for the tribe, making sure everyone is doing well in the tribe, and time to time ready to spill blood in the case when non-human and other members of tribes tried to harm the tribe.

I will also agree in the early phase of civilization's progress, the frequency of these conflicts among different tribes was higher because the world was a zero-sum game - resources were scarce, limited explanatory and evolutionary knowledge, and lack of environments independent from nature. Therefore, applying force and power to gain control of the resources to ensure better lives for the tribe members was one of the mediums. This is one of the prime reasons history is filled with wars, conflicts, and exertion of power. However, in most cases, it was with the purpose of betterment of the own tribe, nation, and communities - the idea of Nationalism was super strong.

The progress, thanks to the hard work of a group of humans, allowed the world to evolve along with humans, and thanks to the new environment created by the group of humans - the world was not a Zero-Sum Game. That allowed humans to serve their own community/tribe/ not by force and power but rather by offering and satisfying their own and others' needs. The world understood the importance of collaboration, and we humans encountered the golden phase of Globalization - which allowed the world GDP to touch ~$100 trillion. We collectively added $62.67 trillion to the world economy in the last 20 years, which is more than 3X of the GDP added in the past 40 years starting from 1960. I am struggling to find any other factor apart from human collaborations behind the rapid progress - the world was/is truly not a Zero Sum Game anymore!

In my last essay, I talked about we can’t change the fundamental aspect of human mental models and hence progress. In fact, the feeling of tribalism is necessary to ensure that progress in humanity is intact, and we as a Human society keep our consciousness (that we certainly have not understood yet) alive, or that is what we are assuming.

The world was a Zero Sum Game, and Nationalism caused progress. But today, the world is not a Zero Sum Game and therefore, a new form of togetherness is driving the progress of the world - Patriotism. The fundamental difference between Nationalism and Patriotism is that the latter has no interest in saying Die Pakistan, China, Bangladesh etc. In fact, Patriotism takes pride in helping others and celebrating when others do good but not at the cost of their own. For Patriotism, its own is its top priority, it is grateful for whatever is available, it is emotional about seeing the suffering of its own for the basic necessities, and it believes that its work can make the future better of its own. But with all this aspiration for its own - it has no interest in gaining that at the cost/suffering of others.

If we follow the same principle, shouldn’t USA's citizens be grateful for being in the world's greatest nation (at present, China might be taking ahead), for the available opportunity, for the fact that almost all the basic needs are available etc. ? The answer would be absolutely yes. And I am sure this must be a motivating factor for the citizens to fix their own problems - if that even means creating a digital currency. The reason immigrants (Including Indians) want to stay in the USA is that they want to live a better life. Of course, no nation is perfect, and at any point, a few things will always be broken but still multifold better than compared to the rest of the nations.

I am sure they will figure out the solutions and fix those broken things. Because the USA was not the world’s greatest country. If you explore its history, you will realise it was worse than 60% of today’s nations. (How?)

The USA in the nineteenth century

  • Average life expectancy = 45 years

  • Infant mortality = 200 out of 1000

  • 5% of people had access to indoor plumbing

  • The average person spends 52% of their income on food

  • Little help from Government

  • Corruption was at the roof at all levels - local to federal

  • Cronyism, not merit, determines most civil service jobs

These are just a few, and if today the citizens of the USA having all these opportunities to live a better life - they should feel grateful (it should be self-generated) because the same opportunities are not available to the rest of the world. This means a group of people took all these problems personally - they worked hard to solve one problem at a time and ultimately created a tribe in which every member could experience the best life. And hence the sense of gratitude and patriotism towards their nation should be a natural phenomenon! At the same time, they achieve progress not by exerting power/force or celebrating other failures, except a few times. :)

This is what Patriotism does: it has no interest in saying you die, you die, you die, and I will live. Patriotism motivates us to take our own problems personally, go all the length to solve those problems and ensure all members of our tribe are living a better life. If you look at the historical progress, you will realise - that's how we have survived and thrived as human societies. Even though we all have evolved from single-cell species - diversity is the ingredient creating all these magics.

Our decisions are influenced by environments, and we can’t expect everyone to have the same thought processes/mindset. And hence Elon highlights the potential threats due to “The World Government Summit” in the same summit - holds its ground. There is some fundamental beauty, importance, and purpose behind being personal for families, tribes, communities, states, nations etc. And being personal to have better lives of own family members, citizens, teams etc. is necessary provided it has no interest in harming others because the world is not a Zero Sum game.

I know you already know this - I just wanted to add some context. :)

It's time to answer, here is my answer to him:

Yes, I am emotional when I see them sleeping on or beside the road, when I see them struggling to get quality healthcare, when I see other humans, slightly evolved, treating them like garbage, when I see others making fools of them when I see people playing with their need and fantasies when I see they sit/stand in the line with their newborn baby for hours and hours to cashout money sent by their husbands and sons and still the Manager on the counter think he/she is doing a favour to them when I see term insurance companies making billions of dollars of profits under Lapse Profit and prevent claim amount to millions of policyholders even though there are $29 billion of the unclaimed amount of the policyholder are sitting idle in the bank of these companies.

And therefore I am personal and emotional about my work and the people we are building for. Also, we don’t want you to be personal and emotional, and we are also not blaming or complaining to you for that. You are doing your job (allocation of capital that could create outsize returns), you keep it transactional, and we will make sure you will be getting multiple X of your return (we will work hard and long for that, we might fail as well). But I would like to have this sensation in my body, we would like to remind ourselves that our work has a purpose - we would like to convert this sensation and incode this into our org DNA. We will ensure these personal and emotional forces become our driving forces - that will push us to work harder and longer! So, no: I am not being unnecessarily personal and emotional for these people - 1.2 Billion Bhartiya.

Before we wrap up this essay, it doesn’t matter whether you use the word Nationalism or Patriotism - it doesn’t. We can even call Gravity: Sonu, Monu, or Chintu provided a significant % of humans use the same word (lol). The bottom line is being personal about our own problem is not a bad thing provided it is not harming others! :)

Thanks for reading! Please share in your network :)

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