I have had this fancy thought for a while. I don’t know whether I have run amock with it but here it goes anyway…

I think a country, any country, is just like an average human, a single person, a macro human if you will. I find that this applies most to a country’s external persona – i.e. how a country behaves/interacts with other countries, and most importantly how the country wants to be perceived by the “society” i.e. all countries in the world.

How does the external persona of a typical person look? We want others to look at us in positive light. I would say we breathe this thought sub-consciously night and day. For most of us, the thought of being looked down as a fool, a weakling, scares us silly and we overcompensate whenever that possibility could be there. I am not that well versed in psychology, but this insecurity simply seems like a reflection of our ego. Basically, we hate to admit we are wrong. When we are resigned to the fact that we cannot get our away – we would rather quietly slip out rather than bring ourselves to say I am sorry with sincerity. Also, in almost always anything and everything we do, if we look deep enough, we will find that there is some personal benefit to us. And that benefit could be This makes me happy but it is very rarely followed just because it made the other person happy. We also find it very easy to likes others who agree with us, and share our interests. When we come across people who are too different from us – we sorta close our shells.

I think all this can be safely applied to your country’s external persona. And “your country”, does not necessarily mean your current government – i.e. the government you didn’t vote for and don’t agree with and hence feel like disassociating with now. The external persona of your country is a collective (but selective) image of all its citizens, and has developed over generations. It is simply a reflection of the collective pulse of its citizens w.r.t how they want their country to be perceived by “foreigners”.

I wager that your pride in your country, your attachment to it, your patriotism – all sacrosanct things in our society, has the most impact on the external persona of your country. And the result is a self-centered, egotistical, hypocritical person, who likes to look good and strong to impress (even if it means intimidation) others:

  • You country generally finds it much easier to like other countries that “look like it”. This means countries whose people have the same race as your country, and it means countries whose people are culturally “not too different”.
  • Your country only gets along with countries that pretty much behaves like it in worldly matters. If it says something that it thinks is important, it likes countries which agrees with it.
  • You country starts acting cool with other countries that don’t agree with it or act/speak differently from it in wordly matters. If it says something that it thinks is important and another country completely disagrees – generally the voices in the country’s mind start speaking ill of the other country.
  • Your country in general will do things with other countries only if it benefits it. If it is giving charity, there is always some strings attached.
  • Your country hates admitting it is wrong. It never wants to blink first in a confrontation. It’s ego will rather make it prolong a bad situation forever rather than saying it’s wrong or more importantly have other’s say “you lost, you are weak”. If at all extricating in a bad situation has to happen, it is done very quietly and with mis-direction and camouflaged words. There is a saying in my native language which translates – even if I fell upside-down, the sand didn’t stick to my moustache (i.e. i didn’t look foolish). This safely applies to a country.
  • Your country likes to think it is very principled, and of course a “better person” than every other country in some respect or other. But inside it (i.e. via some voices within), it knows that it is hypocritical – and principles are broken as often as they are upheld. But in general, it would be caught dead rather than admitting this in public. In some rare moments, there may be a confession here or there – but fast forward a few months and it is back to Mr. Strong.
  • Once your country develops deep hatred for another, it would rather beat that country up rather than be even open to the possibility we can still work out our differences

It is perhaps not a revelation that a country is simply a reflection of its citizens. But is this the one we want? With this kind of a reflection – how proud should we be about our country and ourselves?

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