Transitions

It’s axiomatic that transition results in loss. When change happens, you gain the new and lose the old. I’m staring down a number of huge changes. This is my last week at my first ever full-time job. Next week, I’ll move to a new city to start law school. And to top it all off, I’m getting married at the end of the year.

I’m happy about these changes. I’m happy about where my life is going. But I haven’t given myself much time to think about what I’m giving up. I knew that I would miss New York and all my friends here, of course. I knew that I would miss my church, which was instrumental in my recovery from depression. But there are other losses that I hadn’t even considered, losses that it has only now occurred to me that I have to mourn.

My brother Donovan just finished an internship with MK2MK, an organization with which I’ve worked in the past. In fact, I did the very same internship program as him four years ago. I love MK2MK. But I’m not sure what opportunities I’ll have to be involved with it going forward. Seeing some pictures from Donovan’s internship has made me nostalgic. Four years ago, I thought I wanted to work for MK2MK full-time, mentoring young Christians and traveling around the world. Eighteen year old me would not have guessed that, after graduating college, I would work for two years in a bland office job before heading off to law school.

For a while, my involvement with MK2MK defined me. After my internship, it took months before I felt like I could be at home anywhere else. In fact, the depression that characterized my second year of college was largely a result of feeling like I could not belong anywhere except with this group, which I had come to view as my tribe. I still count people from MK2MK among my closest friends, but it is no longer part of my life in the way that it once was, and it probably never will be.

In my third year of college, The King’s College became my new home. While I had made close friendships during my first two years, I didn’t get that sense of belonging that I so craved until I was preparing to graduate. In the two years since graduating, I continued to consider King’s as my community. I maintained good relationships with professors and a handful of current students, and most of the friends I see regularly are King’s alumni.

With the arrival of each new freshman class, however, it’s become clearer to me that King’s is not really my community anymore. When I graduated, I thought that I would stay involved with the school in such a way that I would barely notice the difference between being a student and being an alumnus. I thought I would get to know all the freshmen and help to shepherd them through their first year at King’s. Somewhat unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen. I am, in fact, an alumnus, not a student. My relationship with the college has therefore had to change.

For whatever reason, I feel as if I am just now really leaving MK2MK and King’s behind. I’m not totally sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because this is my first major transition since moving to New York City to start college five years ago, and it’s causing me to take stock of the past five years. Or maybe it’s because I’m committing myself to a career path that, while relatively flexible, is radically different from what I expected as an intern/student. I don’t know why I’m feeling this sense of loss now when the actual loss seems to be so far in the past. But I am.

In any case, I know what I’m giving up, and I know what I’m getting in return (at least, I think I do). And I’m content with the trade-off.

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Bad Nationalism

I wrote an article for Arc Digital about white nationalism.

The gist of the article is that “white” people are not and cannot be a nation, because they do not have the right sorts of things in common. We think of white people as a group solely because of their roughly similar skin color, and not because they actually share any meaningful characteristics.

You can potentially get around this by saying that, by “white” people/culture, the white nationalists are referring to something more specific, like the culture of the antebellum South. Perhaps “Southern whites” constitute a nation by virtue of their shared commitment to preserving antebellum southern values, including chivalry, their particular form of the Christian religion, and white supremacy. This more specific grouping might constitute a nation in some sense, as they do share the right sorts of cultural and religious commitments.

So then the question becomes, not whether a group of people constitute a nation, but whether their nation ought to exist. And it should be easy to see that the nation described above ought not to exist, as one of its core commitments is white supremacy.

Nationalism is supposed to be a shield for a people to protect itself and its culture from harm. That’s why Israel exists: to protect Jews and Jewish culture from harm. Likewise, America exists to secure the liberties of Americans and to preserve our core ideals. This is right and good. We should encourage it.

But some cultures (and by extension some nations) are predicated upon vicious evils. Such is the case with white nationalist movements. They want a white supremacist nation, because their “culture” is white supremacy. If this were not the case, then white nationalists would be content to live in a racially diverse society as long as white people are treated justly. “White culture” is only under attack if you define “white culture” as white supremacy.

My focus in theĀ Arc Digital piece is on what “nationhood” means. But it might be more useful to develop an account of what distinguishes good nations from bad nations. To put it shortly, bad nations are predicated on the oppression of those who do not belong to the nation.