549. Citizenship - The Lottery Of Life
A matchmaking site asks as one of many also the following question:
The life of one of your fellow citizens is more valuable than the lives of ten foreigners.True
For an egalitarian like me the attitude expressed by such a statement is repulsive. It is the lottery of life, into what citizenship, to what parents and with what genes people are born. Nothing thereof is anybody's personal merit.
Nationalism, chauvinism and patriotism are irrational. Being proud of one's citizenship is the unfounded pride of something not individually earned. The rational justification for being proud of something is the real achievement obtained by the investment of efforts.
The citizenship of any country has benefits and disadvantages, and the lottery of life imposes both upon people. It is irrational to be proud of having any citizenship for whatever reasons while maintaining the denial of reasons to be ashamed of it. As far as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, having a specific citizenship is rather a reason to appreciate being a winner in the lottery of life.
I am German, but this does not justify neither reasons to be proud nor to be ashamed as an individual, no matter the impact, which having the German citizenship has had upon my life:
1. A university degree is considered everybody's right in the case of sufficient intelligence. When I studied, this right not only included free tuition, but also a grant to live on to all students, whose parents were not rich.
I owe my degree to my German citizenship. In many other countries like the USA, where education is a merchandise, I may have spent my life as an unhappy cashier at a supermarket.
2. I grew up between people, who had either participated in or at least passively enabled the Nazi terror and atrocities. Some of my teachers had been soldiers, and I was ignorant of what the majority of adults around me had done, while I have never personally known anybody of those, who had resisted. I suspected every adult to be guilty of having caused harm to innocent people. As a consequence I grew up with a deep distrust and disrespect towards the entire generations before me. This influence led me to define morals predominantly as the avoidance of harming others.
Being a German citizen gave me both benefits and disadvantages. But neither of it can be attributed to my person.
Getting my degree paid for by the German government was not my personal merit.
The guilt of German history is not my personal guilt.
Nationalism as a justification of attributing value to individual persons is obsolete and needs to be overcome. The only moral justification to distinguish between individuals' value can be derived by an assessment of the harm done by them to others.
Therefore here is my personal statement:
The life of one person, who never harms others, is more valuable than the lives of millions, who do harm.