About a month ago I listened to a discussion on citizenship, it was in relation to clause 9 of the UK government’s latest anti-globalisation PR stunt as they continue to rile people based on an outdated notion of what it is to be British. The Empire or what a lot still fantasize about from the ‘Rule Britania’ days are long gone. The world has evolved and anyone sticking to the idea that nation-states can live independently and isolated from the rest of the world has fallen for a sorely mistaken and dangerous ideology. Dangerous because it’s completely devoid of facts, but more so because it pushes a narrative that is cruel, one that encourages hatred above even our fundamental baser instinct to self protect. If we live in fear, we don’t notice the terror/horror that’s happening around us, we don’t notice those abusing our goodwill because we are too distracted…
But this isn’t the point of this post. I’m not here to rant. A lot of us are dealt a really shit hand and we have to make the most of it. That’s the beauty of the human spirit- we will survive. You dear reader are amazing. Just when you thought you couldn’t deal with your own shit, you had a little moment of rest and found a solution. This is what makes us freaking amazing- our spirit. Our spirit, regardless of how low we get, will find ways. This is what I mean by positivity and realistic positivity. I bet now you think I’m just going off on a tangent…you are kinda right!
So back to citizenship. Did you know that it is contingent on approval and that this is something that can be revoked, at any time should a government so wish it. You have to be approved to become a citizen and thus participate in society. Normally this approval is given at birth, adoption or marriage. Sometimes nation-states decide that that is not enough. One of the most ridiculous things I had to do was the process to keep my citizenship. I understood that the Belgian government wanted reassurance that I was still Belgian, however- the hoops I had to jump through when the negative consequences were life-changing, were, I still believe too much. I had to contact various embassies and government officials to ask them to confirm that I was not a citizen of their nation.
F: Hello, my name is Fifi and you have never heard of me. I did spend X amount of time in your country!
Embassy: Ok, how may I help you?
F: I need you to officially declare that I am not a citizen of your wonderful nation!
E: But you’re not!
F: Correct. Now can you put this in writing on official letterhead so I can prove that I am not nor have I ever been a citizen of yours- please?
E: So… you are telling me that you are not a citizen of our great nation and you need us to write officially that you are not a citizen of X?
F: Exactly- I’m glad you understand. When can I get confirmation from you that I am NOT your citizen and therefore not entitled to protections afforded by your own nation?
E: Are you European?
F: Yes, yes I am. But in this situation, I am needing not EU rights afforded to all peoples who belong to the EU, but specifically for your nation! I understand that fundamentally as a European, my rights are covered, however, I just need a letter from you saying that I am not YOUR citizen, even though I am an EU citizen… Can you send me a letter, or send a letter to my Belgian embassy to clarify- please?
Now, this was fine and the EU countries were easy enough. When it came to other countries it was much harder…
E: So, you are not a citizen of our great country?
F: That is correct! Can you send documentation to state that I am not one of your citizens?
E: Well, for us to process it, we must first agree that you are not a citizen. For that to happen, you have to reject officially your citizenship of our nation.
F: But I am not one of your citizens, how can I reject something that I have never been?
E: You know, you could be. Do you want to be a citizen of our great nation?
F: No, at the moment, I just need to prove that the only citizenship I have is Belgian. Thank you for the offer, but to keep my human rights within the time constraints, I just need an official statement to say I am not one of your citizens- if you would be so kind?
E: Our nation is great!
F: Yes, yes it is!
E: So you want to be one of our citizens?
F: Perhaps one day in the future I may be that lucky, but at this present moment, I must decline any offer of citizenship so that I can retain my Belgian citizenship. What documents do you need me to fill in so that you can declare to my own government officials that I am not, not have been a citizen of your amazing country?
I begrudgingly accept citizenship laws for this, only as I have no choice. I am a little person with minimal impact beyond my ability to share my thoughts and stories. The reality is people shouldn’t be stateless because unlike the Tom Hanks film, this is one of the most serious and problematic event that could happen to someone. The UK passed legislation where the government didn’t have to tell a person that they had become stateless!
“UK government doesn’t have to tell people that they have been made stateless or denied citizenship“. This is being allowed and systemically done in the UK in 2022! This is an infringement of personal rights and I’d also declare human rights because you can’t argue against or even challenge something if you are not made aware that your fundamental rights have been eroded. This to me goes beyond the right of the government and the laws that are there for our protection. Why are people paying taxes if they are not protected by their elected government who is there for the betterment of their citizens…
Fine, you say that these rules have been put in place for those extreme circumstances. We have been living in unprecedented times all my life now, and so I no longer believe that we need to have freedom eroded and power handed to those in control, for we are constantly shown how they abuse the system. We can see that these measures are rarely used for the protection of the people but more as a springboard to pass ever more authoritarian laws. At this stage, I’m beginning to believe that most governments (and companies) globally have taken courses on how to be evil and are trying to outdo each other on who can f*ck up people more!
The laws of society are there to enrich society as a whole! Along the way, society has been forgotten; ethics has been forsaken and everyone seems to deem winning at all cost the only goal. Not only is this infeasible, but it’s more damaging because we need to work together to ensure that there is a future!
I completely agree, our governments make us jump through hoops and then when they think we aren’t worthy they simply keep moving the goal post so that we can never reach the intended goal.
Things should be made easier for citizens, not harder, however the latter seems to be the goal of most governments these days.