Sunday, May 17, 2009


As I was finishing my last post and referring to some of the false barriers we construct as we age, I was reminded of a favorite quote of mine, from Tolstoy:
"...just as now a young man is ashamed to show his rude egoism by eating everything and leaving nothing for others, by pushing the weak out of the way that he must pass himself, by forcibly taking that which another needs: so he may then be equally ashamed of desiring increased power for his own country; and so that, just as it is now considered stupid, foolish, to praise oneself, it shall then be seen to be equally foolish to praise one’s own nation, as it is now done in ... national histories, pictures, monuments, text-books, articles, verses, sermons, and silly national hymns."
I suspect Tolstoy and the Bush administration wouldn't have gotten along so well.


  1. I think a lot of people think "Whew, what luck I was born in one of the best countries!". Well, at least a lot of the people in the good countries...

    Do inhabitants of "bad" countries feel that they too were born in a great country? You could certainly see this being completely symmetrical – everybody loving their own country more.

  2. Good point. More generally, I think it reflects what is known as "ingroup bias," which is itself an interesting topic I'd like to cover in more depth.