John Lennon was wrong when he asked us to imagine a world with no countries and no religion. People need countries and religions.
We need countries to give us a sense of belonging, something to be proud of. You are proud of your own achievements aren't you? And you are proud of the achievements of your children. So you are proud of your family. That's healthy.
On the next level up you may be proud of your town or your county. You may even cheer your town's football team or your county's cricket team on a Saturday afternoon. That's healthy too.
Up one more level and you are proud of your country and support your national football team in the World Cup. Or you may relate better to Wimbledon or to the Eurovision Song Contest. Whatever, its all healthy.
The problem arises when people get abusive or violent, football hooliganism and wars and stuff. There's no need for all that. But we don't try to control football hooliganism by banning football do we? Of course not. We combat the real problem which is the hooliganism, we don't use football as a scapegoat. And we shouldn't use nationalism, or religion, as a scapegoat either.
We also need countries to ensure accountable democracy. We need national governments for the same reason as well as borough councils and other levels of local government. They enable decisions to be made locally, by the people who will be affected by them. We really don't want to be dictated to by over-centralised levels of government. We are all different and one size most certainly does not fit all.
That is why the European Union is falling apart. All EU countries are unnique and different and one size most certainly does not fit all. Had the EU stuck to its original mandate of being a free trade zone all would have been fine, but instead it became dictatorial, interfering in the right of member countries to make their own laws. People just won't stand for that.
Most of the wars since World War 2 have been caused by ethnic or religious groups that were sick and tiered of being forcefully enfolded into countries run by different ethnic or religious groups. Instead of being content to live in a relatively big country with people who have an incompatible culture of different political or religious needs, they rebel and try to form their own smaller, self governing country.
In Northern Island the Catholics tried to break away from the predominantly protestant United Kingdom. Ireland has a long history (including prehistory) of being invaded. Shortly after the Normans conquered England they set their sights on Ireland too. As they were invading Ireland from their newly conquered England this is usually written up as the first English claim over Ireland. In 1177 Prince John Lackland was made Lord of Ireland by his father Henry II of England at the Council of Oxford. This marked the beginning of more than 800 years of direct English rule. At this time both countries were, of course, Catholic. Then in 1688 began the Williamite War in Ireland (1688-1691). This was a conflict between Jacobites (supporters of the Catholic King James II of England and Ireland, VII of Scotland) and Williamites (supporters of the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange) over who would be monarch of the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of Ireland. The origins of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)are rather obscure but probably date from the Fenian raids on many British towns, and forts in the late 1700s. Whatever you may think of their methods the IRA is a response to the English (Protestant) occupation of their country. People everywhere want self rule and who can blame them.
The existence of countries does not cause wars. What causes wars is people disrespecting the boarders and the sovereignty of other nations. Actually it goes deeper than that. What really causes wars is the greed of arms manufacturers who want to sell weapons to both sides, the greed of bankers who want to lend both sides the money to buy those weapons, and the corrupt politicians and media barons who get back handers for stirring up the public to believe its alright to disrespect the boarders and the sovereignty of other nations. Don't get rid of countries, address the real problem instead.
The Warsaw Pact countries split apart. Yugoslavia split appart. It divided into several smaller, self regulating countries.
In the Middle East, Israel has become a nation once again and its Muslim neighbours are also splitting apart along ethnic and religious lines. The region had been carved up between Britain and France following the First World War with scant regard for the religious and ethnic sensibilities of the native people. Such artificial countries cannot last. They inevitably split up into smaller units sooner or later.
This is exactly what happened in India with the splitting away of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Its nothing to do with prejudice or racism. Its just that people like to live among people with similar customs and values to themselves and they like their leaders to share those customs and values too. Its perfectly normal and healthy. That's why multiculturalism doesn't work.The inevitable trend is towards a greater number of small, self-governing countries.
We must stop invading other peoples' countries, with or without weapons, because, sooner or later, all conquered people rebel and take their territory back. Even when, as in the case of Israel, it takes them many hundreds of years and the help of more powerful nations. Nobody has the right, ever, to go to another country and demand that the locals change their way of life. Immigrants into Europe, America and Australia have no right to make such demands and Western governments have no right to send troops into Iraq, Libya or Syria and try to affect regime change. We must respect the sovereignty of other countries and their people must respect ours. That's what countries are for.
There are currently nearly 200 different countries in the world, each with its own unique set of customs and laws which suit the people who live there. It would be a good thing if more split apart to give even more variety and choice and to best serve the needs of the inhabitants.
It is, or at least should be, all about variety and choice. Wouldn't it be great if people were free to choose whichever county suited their needs the best and were free to move there? But only if they move there because they love it there, just the way it is. Newcomers have no right to start making changes. In fact first generation immigrants should not even have the right to vote or to hold public office. You don't move to someone else's' country and then start telling them what they can and can't do. That's just plain bad manners. If you don't love he place, just the way it is, you have no business being there.
And some people need religion too. Science explains a lot but it leaves many questions unanswered. People still seek these answers and when science lets them down they turn to more intuitive methods of inquiry.
There is a Hindu proverb that says "There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn't matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone else that his or her path is wrong".
Modern Pagans put it more succinctly when they say "All paths lead to the centre". Actually I prefer "All tolerant paths lead to the centre" because it seems to me that bigoted religions that preach hatred and intolerance are leading their followers away from the centre, back down the mountain.
Religion is about more than just seeking answers to life's deepest questions. Religious practice enriches people's lives in a similar way that art does. If people practice their religion peacefully, enjoy it, get something out of it, and don't try to force it down other people's throats, what right do unbelievers have to try and ban it?
However religious wars are seldom about what they appear to be about. Only the foot solders believe that. The politicians and generals are just after power and world leaders may allegedly be in the pay of the international arms dealers. And the media barons, such as Rupert Murdoch, need to be on side to brainwash the populace into supporting the war. I wonder what inducements they got for paying along in this deadliest of games.
Its not all carrots of course. There are also sticks for those who refuse to co-operate with the war machine. Just look at what happened to Dr. David Kelly. He was a distinguished government scientist who hunted down weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Blair and Bush depended on the lie of Iraq possessing WMDs in order to justify their illegal war. The problem was the Saddam Hussein regime did not have any and Kelly spilt the beans to the BBC 'Today' programme. He was called to testify before a parliamentary committee where he was aggressively questioned about his role in the scandal. He was found dead two days later.
On 18th July 2003 his body was found dead on Harrowdown Hill, near his home in Longworth, Oxfordshire. His death was ruled a suicide by the judicial inquiry chaired by Lord Hutton, but was it just too convenient? He had no reason to take his own life and the British government had every reason to want him dead. So was Dr. Kelly murdered on the orders of Her Majesty's Government? We will never know for sure.
What we do know is his death was not the fault of the existence of countries although it could have been caused by greed, power lust and corruption at the highest level.
How much better it would have been, how much closer to utopia it would have brought us, had Lennon encouraged us to imagine a world where different countries and different religions co-operate with each other in a spirit of love and tolerance. But I suppose it wouldn't have made such a catchy song.
Be excellent to each-other
Founder of the Towards Utopia Movement