Archive for September, 2010

Nations

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Newsweek is not the only magazine we read, but the cover photo for the August 23 & 30, 2010 issue caught our eye. (Guess the double-dated issue was due to their ownership change. Don’t know.) However, now I can’t find that image on their website. However, looking up the cover article from that issue, titled “The Best Countries in the World“, this image took its place:

Random sample of country flags

It’s OK, just not the original one from the cover; it was better. OK. Enough about images and back to the subject. The article rated 100 countries,  based on five categories of national well-being: education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment. They then “weighted” the results and did some other statistical mumbo-jumbo and came up with a list. All in all, it looked like a very interesting exercise. Of course we were mostly interested in their use of flags to identify the countries in the accompanying articles. What else? What other icon better typifies a people? Gee, we love flags.

Now, just to be fair, we realize that some folks consider flags as divisive: they emphasize differences rather than similarities; they divide rather than unify. Well, I guess that’s the point. This planet is made up of many different cultures, languages, traditions: it’s not just one big country and never will be. Not identifying countries would be like giving all your children the same name.

Then again, there are some who are self-conscious (for lack of a better word) about their national identity. A recent Google Alert took us to a provocative post on the “evil” German flag, from the website of Humon Comics. This is a refreshingly clever view on national identities, albeit with a Scandinavian bias.

And of course our old friend, Wikipedia, sheds some light on the various aspects of Nationalism. At the least, it’s a thought-provoking subject.