Divine Nationalism – The Key to Social Progress and The Answer to Social Inequalities

Amidst the hype for the nation-wide celebration of Singapore’s 53rd National Day, I think it’d be appropriate to discuss the question about National Unity, Heaven style. For starters, nationalism is the loyalty and devotion to a nation. It is a sense of consciousness that exalts itself above others. Through it, it will bring about social cohesion within the nation and among citizens who are in foreign land. However, Nationalism without every individual’s complete loyalty to their individual duty will not achieve its intended goal.

In this post, I discuss the desire of all nations to be united as one people in their allegiance to their flag and their country in order to achieve certain society defined goals. However, these allegiances will not be able to alleviate social inequalities and only Nationalism that is defined in the Bible can bring about true societal progress and alleviate social inequalities.

The Impossible Ideal Unity and the Consequent Sufferings

The quest to understand nation-building and nationalism led me to the definition of nationhood. A quick look at the National Pledge of Singapore will tell us that Singapore wishes that her people be as One People. How is it that many people can be One? Earthly nationhood taught us that people are able to be united in Oneness if they all have commonalities – success goals, security, prosperity, growth, etc. Singapore’s goal in nationalism, for example, is to build a democratic society that is based on justice and equality, in order to achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress for this nation that we live in.

Singapore’s National Pledge:
We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language, or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress for our nation.

The idea of nationhood can be similarly found in other nations around the world where everyone bear allegiance to a common symbol of identity – be it a monarchy, a flag, or the republic [1]. This common symbol or an identity will then represent the society in its entirety. This is then accompanied by a common goal, everyone goes about in their lives, putting in their best in their daily lives to achieve what’s best for themselves and for the community. Workers work hard to ensure economic progress and quality maintenance for the economic realm of the nation while students study hard to get better qualifications to better serve the community.

The structural-functionalist will tell us that these are independent parts coming together to play a part to ensure societal progress. Everyone has a part to play and a definite goal to fulfill. Every part is interconnected and interdependent.

Of course, we know the conflict theorist’s stance that workers will rise up against their employers and ultimately overthrowing capitalism in this democratic and capitalist society, but if we take a step back and disregard capitalism for the moment and assume that every part of society is working in such a perfect order that there’s no social stratification of any kind, we will find that the revolution that the conflict theorist preach will not need to be realised. Rather, the actualization of a different type of utopia will fulfill the Marxist’s vision of societal unity without the need for Socialism or Communism.

There is an innate yearning for each and every one to live in unity regardless of background. But history has proven that ideals of oneness are almost impossible to attain. Social inequalities and its consequent sufferings still exist.

From these two perspectives, we recognize that there’s an innate yearning for each and every one to live in unity regardless of background. However, history has proven that the ideals of oneness are almost impossible to attain. Even if nations places heavy emphasis on religion [2] or pledges allegiance to God [3], social inequalities and the consequent sufferings that comes alongside it still exists.

Reasons Why Nationalism Cannot Answer Social Inequalities

Personally, I believe that there are two reasons why oneness that is preached by nationalistic ideals cannot answer social inequalities. 1) People are not fully pledging their allegiance to the flag or to the societal defined symbol of the country, and 2) the earth in itself was cursed.

Firstly, people are not fully pledging their allegiances to the flag or to God because of their diverse beliefs. Capitalism and meritocracy teach and socializes the individual to take care of their well-being before others. Many times, even neglecting others for the benefit of oneself. Now, if you are so focused on the self, how can you put everything you have on the line for the benefit of the nation? Then comes the aspect of God and the allegiance to the God defined by the nation. If people from diverse cultures populate and settles in your nation, how can they pledge allegiance to the God you believe in and ignore their original beliefs?

The second aspect of social inequalities may have its root in the scriptures. The land and everything in it was cursed after the fall of humankind. The curse that was brought about by sin may also cause people to focus on individual growth and neglect the needs of others. Critiques of social orders such as democracy, meritocracy, communism, all prove that there is something about the earth that cannot be solved. Inequalities abound and remain. The rich get wealthier and the poor get poorer. There seems to be no perfect system that can mitigate the issue of social inequalities.

Bible’s Nationalistic Viewpoints and the Answer to Social Inequalities

The Bible teaches Nationalism in a way that cannot be compared with other social groups throughout history. In God’s idea of Nationalism, the country pledges allegiance to Him and Him alone. This form of Nationalism is best portrayed through Jewish nationalism.

“In God’s idea of Nationalism, the country pledges allegiance to Him and Him alone.”

To the Jews, the land of Canaan is their homeland and that they are the people of God is reputable. They held onto this ideas since the beginning of their exile over 2000 years ago, through the Holocaust, and till the founding of the State of Israel. Jewish Nationalism is best expressed in the Jewish National Anthem that was written by Naphtali Herz Imber in 1886.

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope – will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
(HaTikvah “The Hope”; Israel’s National Anthem)

The Jewish people all long deeply to be a free people in the land of Zion and Jerusalem. They were in one spirit and one heart for over 2000 years despite being scattered across the face of the earth for this exact length in time. The held on to the sayings of God that “they will be My people, and I will be their God” (Jeremiah 32:38, NIV).

In fact, if we were to look into scriptures, the nationalism of this kind is a promise of God. God said that He will “give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.” (Jeremiah 32:39, NIV). It is God’s initiative for these people to be single-hearted in thoughts and in deeds, and for their single-heartedness, God will make everything go well for them and for their children.

If you have knowledge of God’s plan to counter social inequalities, then you will know that God is a God of equality. God provides laws to follow; moral laws that are still applicable to today (Deuteronomy 5). God is a God of hygiene (Deuteronomy 14:1-21), a God that cares for civil servants (Levites), foreigners, widows, and orphans (Deuteronomy 14:29), a God that does not like debts and loans (Deuteronomy 15:1-11), a God that does not like slavery Deuteronomy 15:12-15), a God who likes celebration (Deuteronomy 16:1-17), a God that likes an impartial government (Deuteronomy 16:18-20), a God who will value a ruler that has close relationship with Him (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), a God who cares about people who killed people unintentionally (Deuteronomy 19:1-14), a God who cares about fairness in the justice system (Deuteronomy 19:15-21), a God who cares about how you discipline your child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), a God who cares about marriages (Deuteronomy 22:13-30), a God who cares about hygiene and sanitation (Deuteronomy 23: 9-14), etc.

God’s economic logic is not the same as our ideas in capitalism. In capitalism, individual private enterprises increase the profit margin so as to increase profit, decreasing the salaries of the workers and pushing sales to increase profit and wealth. But in God’s logic, “if anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10, NIV).

“God’s economic logic is to give to the needy, then He will give us in return through the work that we do.”

To put it simply, God’s economic logic is to give to the needy, then He will give us in return through the work that we do. It is for this logic that God proclaims that “there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.” (Deuteronomy 15:4-5, NIV).

The Divine Kingdom on Earth a Possibility?

Considering that all the teachings of God in Deuteronomy were targeted at Jewish people who were alive and ready to march into their promised land, the idea of the perfect kingdom with the perfect government that have all the needs of everyone met is an attainable goal in modernity “if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.” (Deuteronomy 15:5, NIV).

The idea of the perfect kingdom with the perfect government that have all the needs of everyone met is an attainable goal in modernity.

Now, considering that the scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), and “completely reliable” because they were originated from prophets who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21), then the promises that God gave the Israelites must be true and valid if rulers and authorities were to pay close attention and follow these commands.

In my previous article about “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, I mentioned that God’s will in heaven can likewise be applied on earth. Though not perfect, it will closely resemble the imagery of heaven in Revelations 21:24. And in order to achieve this, we will need to strive for unity. But unity that will gain the blessings of God will require unity to be founded on Him. Any objections to anything that came from God will be seen as “hostile” (Romans 8:7).

Should rulers of the nations on earth come together to follow God’s words carefully and wholeheartedly, then God will surely bless kingdoms beyond measure. This will include completely embracing God’s divine guidance that is stated in the Old Testament as a moral guidance for governing.

In our current post-modern era where people are generally skeptics of modern ideologies and assumptions of enlightenment rationality, many traditional beliefs and ideologies have been called into question. However, if we were to take the Word of God as it is and believe that it holds true as long as God lives (which is forever), then His instruction for societal progress must be true.

“Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
(Malachi 3:7-12, NIV)

Try God. Return to Him and pledge our allegiance to Him. Give Him all that He deserves so that there may be food in His house. Then He will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room to store it. He will bless you so much that there will not be any poor people in the country. Try God, and unite under His name. We will be His people and He will be our God. We will be united in the singleness of heart and action and all will go well for us. Try God.

 

Footnotes:

[1] – The United States’ Pledge of Allegiance pledges allegiances to the country’s flag and the republic as a whole. Other pledges such as the National Pledges of Dominica also pledge allegiance to their flag.

[2] – By placing emphasis on religion, I am referring to countries that are founded upon religious values. Ie: The Islamic Caliphate and Islamic Nations.

[3] – By pledging allegiance to God, I am referring to countries that have their key focus on nation building founded upon the knowledge of a divine being that is in control. Ie: The United States of America pledges to be a Republic that stands as One Nation under God.

 

References:

HaTikvah (“The Hope”). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.stateofisrael.com/anthem/ 

National Pledge. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhb.gov.sg/what-we-do/our-work/community-engagement/education/resources/national-symbols/national-pledge

National Pledge. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://dominica.gov.dm/about-dominica/national-symbols/national-pledge

The Pledge of Allegiance. (1995.) Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

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4 Comments

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