Negarit 273: Citizenship and Identity Chaos

The most disturbing debate many uninformed disrupters were engaged in was on the difference between identity or citizenship and which supersedes the other!

There are many views on that but generally, an identity is composed of many layers, including national identity. While personal identity describes, among others, the individual’s culture, tribal, ethnic, and linguistic affiliation, national identity includes all, but it provides a set of legal and equal rights and obligations. With a few exceptions, citizenship is not based on race or ancestry.

In modern times, citizenship can be gained through assimilation, marriage, investment, or even a lottery, like in the USA and other countries.

A nation is an entity that a group of people belong to, and that others can be part of, provided the legal or traditional requirements are fulfilled. A nation (country) can be formed by a specific or diverse nationality. It has a set of laws, rights, and obligations equally disbursed to all. Importantly, a nation (country) is centered around an idea that all citizens believe in. And they benefit equally from the protection, economic and legal rights that it provides–it’s like a corporation owned by all citizens.

It’s universally agreed that one cannot hold conflicting loyalty to different countries; in many cases, it could be considered treason, for siding with “the enemies.”. However, such details must be spelled out in a constitution or a charter of pertinent laws to protect the rights of citizens from abuse by governments. If a component of a country subjugates any of its members and controls its power and resources, all will be exposed to instability and violence. A nation’s resources must be shared equally by all citizens, whether political or economic. Sometimes nations impose linguistic or racial values on certain groups, and that leads to fascism.

In the post-modern era, citizens of any country enjoy nationality regardless of their social backgrounds (identities)

NB: this is a summary of my Tigrinya lecture on Negarit 273 linked above


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