So here's a thought for the day. What does it mean to be national? To be German or Dutch or English or French? It's a question that sounds simple at the onset, but which when you pause for a moment and think about it is actually very confusing and complex. I mean consider; Is it the land your born in? The land of your birthplace? Well now many might jump up and say that yes, the land in which you are birthed defines your nationality. But what about those born in other countries whilst on holiday? My mother is British, yet she was born in Germany whilst her parents were visiting. This raises the idea that your nationality is defined by your parents and their national identity. That because of them and their history you are defined in who you are today. Many would argue that this is the right path. That your nationality is a result of your heritage. However how far back does one go? Many people the world over are often the result of migrations and inter-national breeding. You can see it all over, America would be a prime example of where a vast number are nationally American, yet if you go upon the national heritage of their ancestors they come from many European nations. So maybe we only go back one or two generations - only a tiny timespan back into our history to define the intrinsic part of our heritage through our nationality. Then there is the legal side of it; is nationality purely a legal bit of paperwork? Well considering that you can apply for it that would suggest that it is. That your nationality is nothing more than a slip of paper gained only through successful application. Indeed the rules for this are hammered out in most nations - certain time limits - histories - generations - marriage etc... All added together to provide a proof that you are deserving to gain a nationality. Interestingly though for many applying from the outside its a sense of value that is strongly attached. That if you are of benefit to the people of the country that you have a right to be part of their nationality (part of their club); whilst if you're seen to be living off them or begging that you are unworthy. So instead of heritage, birth or paper is your nationality defined by the work you do - by the earnings you generate for the country you live in. Is your nationality defined by how much you pay the tax-man - is it nothing more than a label to wear once you've paid so much? Then there is time; if you've lived in a country for a long period you can claim nationality in many cases or become eligible for it. So as such is that all there is - live within a certain region for long enough and you are assigned the heritage and nationality of that country. There are other views to - other criteria by which we might measure - what food you eat - what religion you are - what moral values you uphold - what language you speak - what accent you have - what colour your skin is etc.... Indeed when we think of a national of a certain country we have in our minds an "ideal perfect" concept (or maybe a couple if we are more aware of that country and its sub-groups). This "person" who is the embodiment of national often combines many of the afore mentioned criteria together. They are a construct we use to measure what is and isn't national to our minds. You can be more than, less than and equal to - yet the point at which you move from less than to not than appears to be mobile and blurry. As if we are truly unsure as to what really is a national. Take colour - when you think of a British citizen you think of a whiteman. In fact I'm betting most of you thought that without any provocation - yet we all know there are those of many nations within the country who consider themselves British. Maybe I should cut closer and say English where the definition has just cut out the Scots, Irish, Welsh.... But even there we've still got the same ideal person - the same ideal concept - and that person is still white. Yet we know there are those within Britain who are far from white, but who count and are counted as British. They've got a slip of paper and indeed to ask them they've the heritage too - a generation - two generations - sometimes quite a significant number of generations of historical presence within the country. And yet when push comes to shove the ideal construct reappears. When times are hard and we start to draw battle-lines we push that ideal to the fore - an ideal that we are not really sure where it comes from - its some part of history and yet not; for the Historical view (and its nearly always some historical view) is still only one niche of the people its from. So my rambling is coming to a close now - so many ideas buzzing around as to what might and what could make one considered a national. I'm fast coming to the conclusion though that the concept itself is flawed. That there is no real Englishman nor Welshman nor Frenchman. We can do it by birth - we can do it by colour - by language (as we oft do) - we can do it be mannerisms. But when push comes to shove we can't really pin down a single definition. It's a range, a range that represents the vast historical mingling of peoples over the world. From recent to ancient history we've been mingling and what often defines us as a people -as a nation is the flag we hold up. As such I put it that nationality is not a birth given gift - not a legacy of heritage or some connection to the land - its a choice. A choice we choose for ourselves and one which others make for us (the two need not be in agreement always). It is a choice we all make, although many of us by circumstance rather than intent (where it is not chosen for us*) *many of us never think on it and allow our parents to choose - then it all travels back to the last person who made the choice to define themselves.