Citizen of Earth

The more I age, grow, and travel, the more that this is clear to me: Despite what my passport says, I am not fundamentally an American, but a citizen of the pale blue dot that is Earth.

While I don't believe that comment to be incendiary, I realize that unfortunately I just lit a fire under every lover of 'Merica (or whatever country you might be from). Please, before leaving the page, voting your nation out of the EU, or skipping below to comment, hear out the entirety of my thoughts. Consider it an act of self-betterment... training yourself to listen to someone with a different viewpoint. It's something everyone could really do much more of in life: truly listening.

I am trying to do the same, but this blog is my chance to speak. After, I will listen.

I am tired of nationalism and what it's doing to the world. All these nations wasting precious resources building militaries to fight wars that nobody wants. It's kind of absurd. "The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds." (Sagan)

Now don't get me wrong, I especially enjoy and am quite proud of some parts of American history. The Constitution is a marvelous document that completely deserves it's place in history. The USA is really the birth place of modern democracy based on libertarian economic values, and it has since spread around the world. There are lots of extraordinary people alive on the eastern seaboard of America around 1776 who did and said a lot of truly remarkable things.

Awesome!!

But in poker, I've learned that I am not defined by what I've done. Every day that I go play, I forget what I've accomplished because that only exists to serve my ego. And serving my ego, while perhaps emotionally satisfying, is but a crutch and will only hold me back. I'm only as good as the next hand that I play. And the same is true of just about everything else you do in life. Attachment to the past as a way of defining the present will lead to an inflaming of the ego and suffering. Nationalism has very little place in the modern world. Economies are intertwined immensely. People can travel everywhere. Many of the biggest problems that we face are on a global level, not a national one: global warming, pollution, overpopulation, Artificial Intelligence hurtling toward the singularity, AI displacing human workers and what that means for "capitalist" economies, educating people to make good decisions as members of democracies, etc... In the future problems like space exploration and expansion, or solving existential threats like a giant asteroid hurtling our way. Why are we wasting our resources competing as nations? What is the point of that competition anymore?

Today I was sitting in a cafe in Mexico City, having this conversation for the umpteenth time with my wife, and later we were talking with the family that owned the cafe... and yet again something I've thought a very large number of times crystalized in my mind: Ultimately I'm not an American nor do I really identify with that tribe in a special or meaningful way... like say my family, or friends, etc... And despite nationalist brain-washing, I don't think people should think that way. Sure, I cheer for the US team at the World Cup or athletes at the Olympics, but most people cheer for their local sports teams. The whole idea of America, democracy, liberalism, etc... is to empower the individual. And through that liberty, the individual can do what he likes, and be happy how he likes. Stop giving that away to the state in order to feel a part of something greater than yourself. Nationalism has become an intellectual poison, a virus.

In fact, my experience so far in Mexico (which is consistent in general wherever I travel), is that the people here are nice and polite. More than that, they are generally wonderful human beings. I am embarrassed that the President elect of my country ran on a platform based on building a wall between our countries, and all the negative feelings that went along with it. If you're religious, well Jesus didn't care if your "brother" had a different kind of passport. It doesn't make your fellow human any less deserving of love, care, empathy, or affection. If you're atheist, then I posit that there's no moral significance derived from belonging to the same nation as someone else. That's not to say that I don't appreciate people that have served our nation, and therefore indirectly myself. I appreciate it just as I appreciate any service in life I am provided, or as I would appreciate and thank anyone who has sacrificed and ultimately that sacrifice has been for me or helped me. Do not confuse what I am saying with ingratitude for the past or for the luck I realize I have had to be where I am in my life.

Nationalism is an irrelevance that is holding us back as humans from evolving along to the next step on our cultural path.

Now I also realize that it's not exactly as easy as snapping your fingers and just having every nation coming together - and basically turning national borders in to state borders. We have a long way to go. There are still governments ranging from democratic to totalitarian, economic systems ranging from liberal to communal, and economic realities existing from rich to poor. It will clearly take time and energy in order to bring humanity together to existing under one law. It doesn't mean that we all have to agree, and we never will. But it does mean that eventually war and killing to achieve what you want will become outdated. Things will be resolved from one corner of humanity to the other in a civilized way as they are from within one part of America to another. We won't have to waste huge portions of resources building weapons and keeping armies and spies to defend against another section of humanity, because that will be an anachronism of a time long past. And rather the huge problems that affect the entire world and all of humanity will be the ones that vast swaths of resources will be marshaled to combat.

"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." (Sagan)

And I urge everyone to think long and hard about this and realize that at the very least if humanity is going to evolve, it will require us to move beyond the current state of affairs politically. And perhaps even more critically, there might be problems that currently exist or that we will soon face that require this evolution as a prerequisite for our continued existence. Therefore, this will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century. It will be continuing the social, cultural, and political evolution of humanity. Nations being the highest arbiters of power and authority is an antiquated concept that has served it's purpose and needs to die. Death is part of the natural process of life and evolution - of beings and ideas. And we all need to realize this, accept it, and move towards a better future. Join me, Citizens of Earth. Citizens of the Pale Blue Dot living on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam. Remember how amazing and powerful and absolutely awe-inspiring life is on our fragile little world. Our little rock orbiting a star in the outer reaches of our galaxy. We are all brothers in life and intelligence here, on the Pale Blue Dot. Our imagined borders are meaningless strokes that we've brushed on the world in our infinite creativity. It is time to use that creativity for more purposeful, meaningful ends.

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brianrast@brianrast.com

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