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Friday, April 12, 2019

A Continual Lost Search of 'Self' Through Collective Identity

~ This woman or man is lost; her/his identity is in a flag

Yesterday we wrote on the history of humans from 'being' to buying'

Today we're going to focus more on the political-social side of things..

Whether those who crossed the Atlantic during the 17th century to arrive in the new world did so based on desires to get away from religious persecution, economic opportunity or simply to start a new beginning, these were not true capital-I individuals

Though they left England, France, Holland, etc and dealt with a lot of adversity and challenges to survive while establishing that new beginning, they still looked at themselves as part of a nationalist collective

In other words, they still saw themselves as English, French, Dutch, etc..
Because of this, once a foothold was established on new world soil, these same people who sought to break free from the shackles of Europe began fighting with each other as extensions of the conflicts and never-ending tensions in the old countries

For instance the centuries old hatreds between England and France contaminated North American' colonial political affairs with the most famous incident being the French & Indian War - it lasted 7 years and was very financially costly to both sides.

If one was to go back in time to say 1770, while in most respects it would be dramatically different than life at present, the central theme which seems to carry on through generations is love, loyalty and desire to sacrifice for country.

Back then it was King and country but really its not different
But something interesting happened during the 18th century in the colonies - loyalty was not just go their country but also to the state to which an individual lived.

One was not just proud to be lets say English but a Pennsylvanian or Virginian or a New Yorker

The more the loyalty and collective identity to the state individuals of that time felt, the less they felt from the home country so it became easier to ultimately break from it.

But notice people had to bind themselves to some collective even then - a country, a state, a city..  As the colonies grew in population and economic autonomy, so did representative identity in them.
So ultimately a Revolutionary War was fought and whether it be over stamp taxes or no representation in Parliament or whatever history teachers say, it ultimately was because one's social and political identity shifted from something afar to something local

War is now over.. Good guys won and then there's this period of a decade or so where no one really knew what they wanted in a government or even if to have one at all

So you get a weakened Articles of Confederation before a Constitution is written and the birth of the country we live in at present
Some individuals like Thoreau and Emerson and the Transcendentalists embrace genuine Individualism where the individual person is pretty much left alone from government interference in their daily affairs and there's absolutely no feeling of nationalist or state pride as means of self identification

Others fully embrace their existence through the state they live in and believe its political will supersedes any greater Federal wants and wishes - this mindset is especially prevalent in the South

Others fully embrace Union and invest themselves wholeheartedly into America first, states second - much more common a belief in the northern and western states
We all know what happens next and after 600,000 die in 4 years, the Union Forever side takes the prize and overall this is how people see themselves; nation superior to state

Now state pride never really went away except for those who are transients and then there's regional pride, city pride, neighborhood pride, sports team pride..

Every collective pride imaginable to go with all the racial, ethnic, sexual and gender pride people lock onto

And then all the political party and activism pride.. Ugh.

No wonder so many people are truly deeply lost inside.
All that 'pride' and no way to figure out how to find one's core Self and embrace capital-I Individual pride and identity

Everything in life draws inspiration from something else - extremely rare to find anything unique into itself

For us and what we do at A&G, out origin point of inspiration was the movie 'Network' made in 1976 though we were too young to see or understand it back when it came out.

Specifically, there's a speech toward the beginning where Howard Beale, the news anchor of a fictional network had a breakdown on air based on losing his job and seeing how bleak things were in the country
Beale was allowed to give a sign-off address to the viewers because he had been there so long, and to the network's shock, spoke with honesty, candor and passion

We won't give the whole speech here but what touched a nerve with all of us at A&G was when the anchor says:

"You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!.. I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

The part about screaming it out the window was a little silly but overall, that is really why we do what we do and continue after 8 years, 7+ months and never seek out or accept a penny for our efforts
It is never too late to wake up and start to really learn who you are as a person and make whatever changes are necessary to make your existence and understanding of the world better

We can't tell you how specifically.. It's an individual journey

But when it comes to motivating people to stop thinking of themselves in ways that at one's core have absolutely nothing to do with one's true Self, we'll continue to be the bee in the bonnet with an occasional sting to make the point