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Ethnic communities have survived over long periods without political autonomy a homeland a common language etc therefore we need to focus more on the subjective elements in ethnic survival such as ethnic memories values symbols myths and traditionsThese all may unite and inspire but a myth of ethnic election is even more important for ethnic survivalThe ethnic myth is a dramatic tale that links the present with a communal past and one that is widely believed its helps draw the members into a distinctive community194CAN ANYONE GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF AN ETHNIC MYTH FROM YOUR COUNTRIESThe belief that we are a chosen people has been crucial to long-term survivalThis is not the same as plain ethnocentrismTo be chosen is to be placed under moral obligationOnly those whose lifestyle is an expression of sacred values have the privilege of being the chosen onesElection myths in the Middle East and EuropeOver a thousand years before the Jews believed they were chosen in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia these ideas can be foundEthnocentrism was more pronounced in Egypt where there was a sense of cultural superiority to those who lived outside the landsThe central Israelite belief that God has chosen a particular people to bring salvation to humanity is conditional on the fulfillment by the chosen of detailed moral and ritual codesPersians have belief in ethnic chosenness Armenia has pride in being the first Christian nation the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum and its successors rested their legitimacy on a myth of election Islamic allegiance has added a crusading fervor Particularly among the Arabs it has stimulated a pride in their language culture and achievements and a sense of election and collective destiny that continue to exert a powerful influence on Middle Eastern politics to this day 193Myths of election also helped to sustain ethnic communities in Europe The Byzantine Christian ideal was essentially universal extinguished in 1453 The Russian Tsars became the sole bastion of orthodoxy in an
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