Homelands In A Global Community (Rev. Lou Snead)
Homelands In the Global Community
There is an almost innate sense of importance within humanity that gets attached to the idea of our native “homeland”. Whether we define our homeland as the place of our birth or where our identity is rooted, most of us think of ourselves as belonging to a distinct region or location on this good earth. Love of country seems like a universal human trait. Many of us proclaim proudly that we are native to a certain state, city, or country. We wear our appreciation of our homeland as a social and political badge of honor. Within the world community, for instance, we travel with passports that say we are citizens with a particular nationality. From a historical perspective, most of us have developed cultural, religious, and racial/ethnic identities on the basis of places of origin- Western European, African American, Asian, Native American, etc. Wars have been fought over protecting our homelands from invasions by “foreigners” or from the desire to take over the homelands of others.
In today's world, “homelands” in places like modern-day Israel are being deeply contested by Arabs and Jews. The same is true in places like the Crimea of Ukraine, the Korean peninsula, Taiwan with respect to China, and Catalonia in Spain. In our own country we have been struggling for decades with the issue of our national security with respect to Mexican and Central American immigrants and refugees seeking better lives for themselves here in the U.S. Homeland borders in the 21stCentury have become more porous and less well-defined culturally by shifting populations moving from the Middle East and the African continent to Europe. In the global community of today, the idea of one's “homeland” is being redefined in large measure by economic and political turmoil and where greater safety and opportunity can be found. Old notions about clearly defined national identities, ethnic and cultural locations, and the legitimacy of property ownership are all being challenged by new viewpoints about once natural claims to certain homelands.
One of my favorite cartoons depicts this expanding awareness about the entanglements of national origins and homeland identities that are reshaping our world today. It pictures two native Americans standing on a rocky ocean shoreline watching a wooden ship named the Mayflower coming in a bay to anchor. One of the native Americans turns to the other and says, “I wonder if they have their greencards?”. Within this captioned picture we discover the historical, social, political, and ethnic difficulties and ironies about determining where or what constitutes one's “homeland” in today's evolving world. Among these difficulties citizens in many countries are being asked today to reconsider the use of power and might to claim ownership and priority of a particular place in our ever-growing global community. In this re-thinking of homelands, some have suggested that we need to rid ourselves of the old ideas about private property and property ownership. As our global community experiences more and more population shifts, climate changes, economic pressures, cultural migrations, and international commerce we may be witnessing a new era in which “homeland” will be radically altered.
One of the obvious implications of this global community consciousness has been the broadly shared concerns about the health of our planet in terms of global warming, rising sea levels, environmental degradation, and economic sustainability. Before too long, global community citizens will be compelled to speak of our “homeland” not in terms of countries or places where we are born but as the life-ship earth on which we all depend and no one person or group of people have a right to claim only for themselves. If history is any indication of what we might expect, then this shift in homeland definitions will be both necessary and disruptive in ways we have yet to imagine.