Every time Zeynep has to go through an immigration control, she needs to think in advance and decide what she is. Is she Turkish or is she Italian? You see, it's not a simple question with a simple answer. The answer depends very much on where she is going or where she is getting out from. Which passport does she take out, the Italian or the Turkish? She is the same person, but her welcome to the place is contingent on the passport she shows the “authorities”.
Going to Beirut she kept reminding herself that she needed to get her Turkish passport. That's the precious one that doesn't require a visa to Lebanon.
Then she said “Oh, I'll be needing the Italian too.” On the way back, to enter Italy. She might have just used her Italian ID for that but she got her passport anyway. Just in case.
And good thing she did. She had not thought she'd be needing the Italian passport to exit Italy as well. You see, nowadays there are these machine readable passports. You show it to a machine and walk through the immigration control, it's a breeze. Otherwise, there's a long queue. More than that, it's not important one is leaving the country, the immigration checks one's entrance stamp into the country. To see if they have been there legally. One need proof of that.
Zeynep cannot help but think... Why does she have to think about which of her identities suit the country she'll be dealing with and present one or the other accordingly? Even though she is definitely not cheating, she feels it's hypocrisy; the political structure of the world is forcing her into a double identity.
You may be the same person. But it's not who you are, it's the papers you carry that are respected.
Ekaterina is born from an Italian father and a Russian mother... What is her citizenship? Or let's take a moment to analyse ourselves and answer the question “Which citizenship should she have?” I suppose the reasonable answer would be “Both.” If citizenship/nationality is an identity, Ekaterina carries both.
What is the reality on the ground? If she was born in Russia, she could be both. But she was born in Italy. Mistake or unfortunate circumstances of the parents. Now, Ekaterina can keep double citizenship only until the age of 18, after which she has to make a decision. Choose one.
The logic is Russian has to be your primary citizenship in order for you to have double citizenship. A child born somewhere else than Russia is not considered primarily Russian.
This feels so much like a capricious wife. It's like the government saying "I would have accepted you taking a second wife, but I won't accept to be the second wife myself. I have to be your first wife. Since you married someone else first, you have to get divorced if you want to marry me!"
Whichever Ekaterina chooses at 18, she is always going to be a Russian and an Italian, she is always and forever going to be an Italian and a Russian.: Whatever the “authorities” deem her to be. They won't be changing her genes, they won't be changing her mother and father tongues, they won't be changing her intertwined culture and way of seeing the world whatever it may be. No authority in the world will be doing any of these things because these attributes are default for every single one of us, there's nothing to be done about it. Yet, authorities dictate us who we are.
You may add to this international family another factor. The parents have chosen to live in a third country, let's say Turkey. So Ekaterina grows up learning Turkish. Which nationality does she identify with? To what degree?
Basically, this should be a question that only Ekaterina can answer. Why do politicians decide and cauterize people with their categorizations?
Why should people be put in certain boxes according to their nationalities?
Nisha was adopted at the age of three to Italian parents. She grew up leading a standard/normal Italian life. Then came one day. The day she got engaged. Her fiance wanted to go to India to visit the place where his beloved came from. They did their work, arranged their trip. Now it was time to go to the Indian Embassy to get their visas.
This is actually where the story starts. Because the Indian Embassy realized that Nisha's name was not erased from their registry when she was adopted. So according to them, Nisha was Indian. You may ask “So what?” If she is Indian, it should make things simpler. She can go to India without a visa then, right?
Wrong. Indians need an Indian passport to enter India. (The former British MP, mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, and now the PM Boris Johnson, who is also American because he was born in the US has had a similar episode, being denied entry to the US because he did not have a US passport. He was not allowed to use his British passport, needed the US one.)
“Eh okay, she gets one then,” you say. Things are not so easy. The Indian passport takes three weeks to be issued, the papers needed to go to India, be approved and come back.
Nisha and her fiance have already made their travel arrangements, thinking that it takes a day for an Indian visa to be issued. This is an unexpected obstacle. Nisha is cornered.
“Isn't there another option? A way around this?” she probes.
Yes, actually there is a way. “But you have to denounce your Indian nationality,” says the responsible at the Indian Embassy. “Then, you apply as an Italian, we can give you your visa tomorrow and you can go.”
Thus Nisha became a total Italian even though her genetic heritage and personal history says she is Indian. At least of Indian origin.
But whatever the papers say, they are true.
You do not dare to object! Or do you?
At least POTUS- the President of “the greatest country on earth” claims some Americans are not really Americans and they should go back to their countries.
There are many more of Zeynep, Ekaterina and Nisha. They do not feel a particular kinship to the Turkish or the Italians, or the Russians. They are globalites. Their kinship to others lie on different qualities more relevant like people's characters, ideas and ideals, their amicability. These are the things that matter, who cares about someone's nationality?
Well, some do of course. Sure, homeland is important. Sure, national identity is important. We all have ties to the land where we grew up, where our language is spoken, where our “culture” has been formed. Isaac Asimov has boiled it down in “I. Asimov”:
“I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing "Give My Regards to Broadway."
This sort of thing, however, should remain cultural and benign. I'm against it if it means that each group despises others and lusts to wipe them out. I'm against arming each little self-defined group with weapons with which to enforce its own prides and prejudices.”
It's interesting to see how fractured groups of people are in reality, yet how they claim to be united. Some claim “America first.” They claim “Italians first.” But which America, which Italians? The United States should be renamed the Divided States. The United Kingdom should be the Divided Kingdom. There are fault lines all over the world. Italians are divided within themselves too. The division in Italy is between north and south. Or let's take Sicily. There is Catania and Palermo. Where do our loyalties lie? To the bigger identity or the smaller? Will we exclude our fiance who is from Frascati because we are from Velletri? Where do you draw that line?
Perhaps it's best to make it humorous like the “America First - The Netherlands Second” viral video. Yet, nobody really needs to be first apart from our immediate family and circle of friends. The rest are all people we do not know. People whom we may like or not like. Independent of our being “compatriots.”
Zeynep, Ekaterina and Nisha may be a minority at the moment, but their numbers are increasing. In the globalized world, where people are moving and mixing at an unstoppable rate, it's impossible to keep their numbers small. As globalization takes over some more, identities will keep blurring. Nationality will lose its significance if it is not already losing it. We hopefully will transcend this political structure and will start seeing each other not as nationals of a place but as people. We will move more towards Asimov's depiction.
In his piece “The demise of the nation state” in the Guardian, Rana Gupta writes: “After decades of globalisation, our political system has become obsolete – and spasms of resurgent nationalism are a sign of its irreversible decline.”
The demise of the nation-state might not be imminent, but it is inevitable. Our task is to get the best of our culture, traditions and identity to enrich our experience, preserve our diversity. Yet, embrace the commonality of all humanity.
By the way... We don't need to worry about not having enough. As Gandhi said, “The world has enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed.” So let's concentrate on scraping away our greed instead of trying to destroy those we deem the “other.” Let's concentrate on “Live and let live.”
In the “Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained” video it says “No matter what your motivation is, whether you dream of a world where all people live in freedom and wealth, or you just want fewer refugees coming into your country, the simple truth is that it's beneficial to you personally if people on the other side of the globe can live a good life.” And it is very true. So it's “needs” first. Needs of every single person on earth. Second, we get to the greed.