Language is the most powerful – Weapon
Language is supposed to be the most powerful tool that homo-sapiens have learned to use. It is the method of human communication, either spoken or written. It brings two people closer and help understand each other. But, we have used this tool as a weapon – the biggest weapon that an evil mind could use to divide the world and cause the bloodshed.
There may be instances of violence in the name of religion, but the wars and sufferings caused by identity – defined by language are enormous. The division of land and people, and thus the violence caused are unparalleled. There is almost no country in the world which came into existence with a reason other than language. Nearly all nations in the world have their own language and define them. Be it India or Pakistan; Pakistan or Bangladesh; France or Germany; England or Ireland; China or Korea; Indonesia or Malaysia, Iraq or Iran; the United States or Mexico; Brazil or Argentina and so on.
In other words, every language has a nation.
United Kingdoms of Great Britain (GB) and Ireland (IRL)
Let’s talk about the most powerful empire of the eighteenth century – United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. What might have led the disintegration of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland?
United Kingdoms of Great Britain (GB) and Ireland (IRL) were sovereign ‘union’ states during the year 1800. Later, Ireland became independent but Northern Ireland (Small part of Ireland) and Great Britain became a new union called as United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or simply United Kingdom (UK). Great Britain further became three sovereign countries i.e., England, Scotland and Wales.
The point I want to make here is; the British Empire was actually the union of four nations (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales) identified by their languages which are English, Gaelic, Irish and Welsh. An identity fueled by language disintegrated an empire into sovereign nations.
Language is at the heart of Nationalism
Nationalism is good. It is a patriotic feeling towards one nation and helps people to be loyal to one’s country. But an extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other is a tool for division and destruction.
One of the main reasons for World War-I was nationalism which was endemic in early 20th century Europe and was a major cause of World War I. The decision of Bosnia and Herzegovina to join Serbia and establish ‘Greater Serbia’, aggravated an already prevailing sense of extreme nationalism in Europe. Young Serbs (People speaking Bosnian, Croatian, English and Serbian) joined radical nationalist groups to fight and drive away Austria-Hungary Empire (People speaking German, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish). These groups hoped to establish a unified state for all Slavic people. It was this pan-Slavic nationalism that inspired the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, an event that led directly to the flare-up and thus the World War I.
On November 11, 1918, World War I ended for Austria-Hungary with a complete military loss. The ethnic groups of Kingdom of Hungary called for independent nation-states. Austria-Hungary Empire disintegrated into:
- Germany (Speaking German)
- Hungary (Speaking Hungarian)
- Czechoslovakia (Speaking Czech)
- Ukraine (Speaking Ukrainian)
- Poland (Speaking Polish)
- Romania (Speaking Romanian)
The fire of nationalism based on language didn’t end with the end of World War – I, but the Balkans region further disintegrated into following nations:
- Bulgaria (Speaking Bulgarian)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (Speaking Bosnian)
- Kosovo (Speaking Albanian)
- Macedonia (Speaking Macedonian)
- Montenegro (Speaking Montenegrin)
- Croatia (Speaking Croatian)
The Indian Independence and creation of Pakistan
By the time World War –I and World War – II ended, it had crippled the economies of European colonial empires. There was neither the resource nor the intent for them to continue the direct rule in Asia and Africa. They had been ruling nations on these continents for over 200 years.
1947 was the time when India was preparing to gain freedom from the British Empire. The attainment of independence for India was followed by one of the bloodiest separation of the borders in history. It gave birth to a new country – Pakistan.
India a Hindu majority nation and Pakistan a Muslim majority nation seems to be separated on religious ground. But the truth is that only Urdu speaking elite Muslims wanted a separate state, and the rest were not even aware of this until the bloodiest chaos started.
The Urdu speaking Punjabi Muslims had demanded a separate land to serve their identity crisis using religion as a tool. It gave rise to the idea of Pakistan. Had religion been the heart of separation; a Bengali speaking nation (Bangladesh) would not have been created out of Urdu speaking Pakistan. The Urdu speaking leaders’ unfair treatment of Bengali Muslim leads to widespread resentment in East Pakistan. The resentment fueled the idea of separate Bangladesh.
The War of Liberation of Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 and ended with the liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971. With the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, the Indian sub-continent was now divided into 3 separate nations:
- India (Mostly Speaking Hindi)
- Pakistan (Mostly Speaking Urdu)
- Bangladesh (Mostly Speaking Bengali)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had a total of 15 republics before its disintegration in 1991. A weak government and economy fueled by ‘cultural identity defined by language’ or ‘language defined cultural identity’ has been the reason for the disintegration of the Soviet Union during the 1990s in 15 nations all speaking a different language. Below is the list of 15 nations:
- Armenia (Speaking Armenian)
- Azerbaijan (Speaking Azerbaijani)
- Belarus (Speaking Belarusian)
- Estonia (Speaking Estonian)
- Georgia (Speaking Georgian)
- Kazakhstan (Speaking Kazakh)
- Kyrgyzstan (Speaking Kyrgyz)
- Latvia (Speaking Latvian)
- Lithuania (Speaking Lithuanian)
- Moldova (Speaking Romanian)
- Russia (Speaking Russian)
- Tajikistan (Speaking Tajik)
- Turkmenistan (Speaking Turkmen)
- Ukraine (Speaking Ukrainian)
Nations are still disintegrating due to this weapon.
In the year 2002, East Timor became an independent country after years of struggle from Indonesia. It is striking to note that East Timor opted Portuguese as the official language while Indonesians use Indonesian Bahasa. New nation. New official language.
In the year 2011 South Sudan becomes an independent nation which opts out English as the official language where in Sudan they have Arabic as their first official language. New nation. New official language.
The election for an independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017. The ballots were available in Kurdish as well as Arabic. Iraqi Kurdistan mainly uses Kurdish language.
Do not these indicate that language has been used as a weapon for dividing people around the world? The planet with no visible boundary divided into just seven continents has now over 200 nations. The boundaries has been constantly been redrawn giving birth to nations followed destruction and bloodshed.. Doesn’t we realize what is happening all around?
The hatred and the madness has to stop
We are the only blessed creation of nature who are gifted with the power of language. But we misused this to create a sense of false identity in our minds. We thus have grown hatred towards people speaking other language. We schooled ourselves to believe that our language identify us.
But it is our culture that identifies us and language is just one component of it.
Don’t we see how nature has created the land without any border? Don’t we observe breeze know no border? Don’t we look at the clouds defying borders? If nature has not divided the land and the people, why do we differentiate ourself on the basis of language?
We have already grown from 50 nations in 1900 to almost 200 nations now. There are nearly 7000 languages in the world. We cannot continue fighting for our false identities. The hatred and the madness have to stop. And, it starts from you.