7 Ways to Protect your National Identity from an Abusive or Embarrassing Government

Photo Credit: m.p.3

Photo Credit: m.p.3

Traditional patriotism is an outdated concept. Having national pride is not about earnest parades and ostentatious flag-waving but an indicator of national identity that is very personal and fickle, at most. As nations continue to move forward to a more modern and integrated world, views of nationalism and culture evolves with people and experiences we have with others. However, national identity can sometimes be as fragile as glass when a country is disgraced by its leaders and frowned upon by the international community. The actions committed by an abusive or embarrassing government has emotional and psychological repercussions on its citizens to the point of diminishing patriotism and a failing grip on national identity.

When you suddenly feel as though your legal right to a nationality undermines your own existence, life can become very difficult very quickly. National pride is something one acquires, and is not a commodity that can be bought and sold so how you steer this sense of pride is in your control. If your country has experienced a change of leadership or is facing negative backlash from the international community, there are certain actions you can take as a private citizen to help you protect your national identity.

1. Mentally Divorce Yourself from your Government

Your government does not define you and you can only be responsible for your own actions. Irrespective of whether your government has caused you anger or embarrassment, remind yourself what the role of a government is and separate yourself from it. If you are unhappy with how your country is being represented or what is being said about your nation, identify why it is being said and why you are reacting so badly to it. Having a logical thought process will help to clarify the situation without feeling sucked into negative news. Your list will help you to draft a plan of action to help manage your stress and you can later decide whether you want to take further action.  

2. Understand the Views of your Political Representative at Home

No matter which political party your representative belongs to, the job of your local politician is to support you and represent the views of constituents back to central government. If you are concerned about your government or how your country is being treated by the international community, find out how your elected representative feels about the issue and whether their statement falls in line with your views. If it does, consider arranging a meeting or a call with them to discuss your concerns further. If the statement contrasts your views, be prepared to write an educated response that is backed with specific actions for them to consider. Be active rather than silent.

3. Think of Why your Country is Great

Detach yourself from the media and clear your head for a bit. Once you are level-headed, list down all the things that made your country great and what made you feel proud. The list will serve as a talking point to help tackle any negative talk that may confront you in the future.

4. Start a Dialogue with your Embassy

Getting to know your embassy representative is important especially if you are living abroad. The job of a diplomat is to protect the national interest which includes protecting their nationals. While their remit may be limited to an elected official, raising your concerns will provide diplomats with useful information that may be passed to the home country. Diplomats typically do not engage with the grassroots so you will be helping them understand the situation on the ground and as a national, your views will be taken seriously.

5. Lobby your Ambassador

Consider starting a letter campaign addressed to your Ambassador by encouraging friends and family to write to your embassy. The volume of letters and phone calls will be difficult to ignore and will clearly send a message to the government that things are not right. Be clear about what your concerns are and how you want them addressed. It is the job of the embassy to pass the information on to their home country, so make sure that the information you provide is accurate, informative, and not forgotten.  

6. Form a Facebook Campaign Group

Some of the biggest movements have started on Facebook, from the Colombian ‘One Million Voices against FARCE’ campaign to ‘Occupy Wall Street’. Consider forming a group of your own that raises concerns about your government as a citizen of the country and start to gain international support, no matter how small. Strengthen the campaign with compelling personal stories that can be easily shared by others and try to remain politically neutral to attract a wide variety of followers. If you are not able to start a social media campaign in your location, get a friend elsewhere to set the page up on your behalf to help spread the message.

7. Seek Naturalisation Elsewhere

If you are deeply unhappy about your national identity, where it is harming more than enlightening you, there is always the option of becoming a naturalised citizen of another country. Naturalisation is the legal process by which a person changes their nationality where the state gives you permission to live in the country permanently. You will need to consider which country offers you the best options as a foreigner as laws vary from country-to-country with strict requirements. It is highly recommended that you discuss naturalisation options with an immigration lawyer and seek information from your local embassy, as it is a life-changing decision with big consequences.

Should you require assistance in putting any of these recommendations into action, please contact Grassroot Diplomat or consider joining as a member.