How do you define home? Is it defined by people, music, places, culture, memories, the land, a country?
By Mirna Santana
How do you define homeland, your country/Patria or your region? This question is more about the large context of the qualities that define our countries or regions. It is about what unifies us. It is about what are the things that matter to us and why? It is about the qualities you apply to places you connect to...emotionally. It is where your family, friends or long-term memories are rooted. It does not need to be the place you were born.
Do you have a country or is the whole world your country? Do you have several places you can call home? Do you have a way to carry home or your Patria or your place within you? If you were to give a two minute elevator speech to convince someone to visit your place, what would you say about that place?
Does the existence of such a concept Patria bothers you because it brings to you Patriotism or nationalism, concepts that may be responsible for many wars? Or is your accepted definition of patria or nation a good reason to fight to defend it.
What is included in you definition: the geographical context, emotions, memories, symbols (a flag, currency), culture (food, music, language, accents, national/regional custom), power issues, political boundaries or frontiers, physical structures, race or other identity binding issues such as religion?
A friend once said "This place is home, because of my friends." She has two homes because she feels officially accepted in her adopted home while keeping her identity and connection to the place where she was born. In a way I find a parallel in that.
Home has always been and will always be a little place bathed by ocean waters. Yet through time, I have been known for adopting-- and being adopted at places where I have lived elsewhere. My definition of home is now more global more like Virginia Wolf, home is the world. Yet home is also a beautiful lake or the smile of a local child. Home is as always the memories of the oceans, my friends and family.
One of the most beautiful ways to define Patria, came to me through a song by Ruben Blades--the song is call Patria. Blades definition of what home is, can be summarized like this: Patria are many beautiful things.
"A while ago, a little kid asked me for the meaning of the word Patria. He surprised me with the question and with my soul in my throat, I answered: Beautiful creature of my neighborhood, little brother, Patria are so many beautiful things."
Blades continued saying "Patria are the walls of the buildings in our neighborhood; Patria is hope--the dark skinned people hopes. Patria are also the memories that travel in the minds of those who leave their places... Patria is a feeling..and it is the looks in the eyes of an old man. It is the eternal spring. It is the smiles of your new baby sister.. I tell you little brother Patria are so many beautiful things!"
What Patria is not he added, "Patria are not the people who oppress others ."
Perhaps Wendel Berry may see Patria as the land and as freedom. He has written about wars--and he seems to understand how that concept makes people goes to fight (see views of Wendell Berry).
Wendell Berry embraces the humanitarian global as well of a local view of home. Wendell Berry quotes "Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace
the flag."... the flag here represents that homely place and it is not any government.
"As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world. " Virgina Wolf. She was from Britain yet this quote tells a lot about her global perspective. This is a feature of most humanitarians and of most world trotters. She was indeed a traveler. Some people see these words as empty, in reality the contrary is true. When someone has been exposed to a broad spectrum of people and their cultures, the image of what is home blurs and expands. It becomes the world, the planet, the Universe--yet somehow perhaps as a survival and primitive mechanism it reminds connected to the land and to the close friends that help to connect the dots and keep oneself anchored. The concept of family becomes humanity, likeness, and not just blood ties.
Of course Patria is also defined by leaders to convince others to fight for their territories. Those definitions are quite different from the above descriptions and I will not discuss them here.
G. Julius Caesar said of patriotism "Beware of the leader,who strikes the war drum in order to transfer the citizens into panic patriotic glow. Patriotism is a double-side sword. It makes the blood so boldly, like it constricts the intellect."
Blades song was a hymn for places that were looking from freedom from colonialism, yet it was also a definition of what makes a country and its people hold together. I found some reactions to Blades songs in you tube and brought them here as a ''starter" to help you express your own homey definition.
"Wherever I go this song connects me with the land where I was born"--Millenium 2007
"What a feeling! What a beautiful song. My soul breaks when I listen to this song yet at the same time, it is part of me" sappstuf
For me this song is a Latin American Hymn. It is the most beautiful definition of what makes a country hold together. It says a lot about the things we love. It is about how we put those pieces together and save then in our long-term memories. War is perhaps the fear to lose some of those things that bring us together as humans/the things that give us a sense of place.
© 2011 MSantana