For quite some time now I have been looking very closely at individualism versus the collective and I have become very aware of the FACT that we are indeed a collective, even if we are fragmented and even if most of the people within the collective are unable to see that, we are still living as a collective.
What I have learned has made its way into my speech and I have noticed that people cannot think laterally in terms of the Tribal principles of ‘us and them’. To put it very plainly people see differences and they foster differences. They see similarities as well but the similarities they see are made on a much more selective basis. What happens is people will identify themselves with some types of people but not with other types of people and we all do this instinctively, this is the basis of Tribalism and it is as normal to us as the opposable thumb.
When I am speaking about people I have gotten to a point where I generalise a lot. I do this because I have been looking at things from many different points of view and I am coming up with much more inclusive paradigms with regard to the behaviour of large groups of people. An important note here is that it is very difficult to think in terms of large groups of people and this is why so many of us don’t bother, it is easier to just accept what appears simple and so intolerance becomes widespread for this reason. Once more I don’t think I am better than anyone by thinking this way and I do think that oversimplifying our human nature is the cause of so much of our difficulty and as I have said many times before few people realise that they are part of the problem.
If you see things from many different points of view you are taking others into consideration. I have only been teaching myself this construct recently, for most of my life I was completely unable to look at things this way and so I had a lot of difficulty. To see how things have changed I can give a simple for instance, I can clearly see how the conflict in Northern Ireland works and I can understand the concerns of both sides of the community.
For most of us when we look at a problem such as this we have difficulty understanding the behaviour of those two sides do you know why this is?
When someone looks at the Northern Ireland issue they see it solely through their own eyes. Most of us are civil and law abiding so we cannot fathom how anyone could ‘choose’ anger and violence and that’s the crux we see it as being something these people ‘choose’ to do. Yet from the point of view of those involved it is not a choice at all. The differences between those who are socially and emotionally settled and those who are not is the key to grasping this. You cannot look at people who are in completely irrational situations and rationalise what they are going through, it doesn’t work. When I look at Northern Ireland I see the History and present as being intertwined and I see clearly that since it is all concurrent it is impossible to take the present without it being in the context of the past.
Individualism is too easy and it causes a kind of detachment of people who are engaged in it. We are brought up to believe that if we take care of number one and work hard everything will be alright, well if that were the case we would be living in a much more balanced society wouldn’t we? As it turns out there is clearly something wrong with our society but the majority of people won’t care to admit that and those who do usually blame the Foreigners or the Politicians for what’s wrong. Something else happens though people cannot see themselves in the same light as everyone else so they are much more likely to overlook their own wrongs and focus on others.
The actualities of modern life are much more stark than most people will ever realise, we are all still locked in a game of survival of the fittest which has simply evolved to take our new social surroundings and standings into consideration, the same rules apply though.
On quite a few occasions in the last year or so people have stopped me during conversations and asked me why I keep saying ‘We’. I found this strange. People use the word ‘We’ very selectively and they use it only when they are putting themselves in the context of people with whom they identify. Listen to peoples speech and you will get a sense of this if they are talking about their family and friends they will use the word ‘We’ but if the conversation switches to wider society they will begin categorising others as being different than themselves. This is very common and it doesn’t just happen in broken communities like those of the Loyalists and Republicans everyone is engaged in this type of behaviour.
This makes it very clear that not only are ‘We’ deeply fragmented but we’re also using our speech to further foster these divisions.
Human beings are naturally very habitual creatures and above all else we will seek comfort. We are also adverse to change and will do all in our power to find niches in which we fit and then use our social skills to make these niches as comfortable and continuous as possible. This is why foreigners struggle to fit into new social climates, because often the native communities make it very difficult for them. Because the natives make it difficult for the foreigners they then in turn get insular and will not socialise much outside their own groupings as a method of defence but the natives then use their inability to mix with them as a further reason for mistrust and so the lack of trust is made worse and worse but none of the groupings stop themselves and think about how their own behaviour is aeffecting the others and so intolerance continues unabated. None of them realise either that the Us and Them syndrome in regard to migrant groups is ancient, it has been happening since the beginning of our species and is not new or different just because it is happening presently.
Are you aware of when and how you use the word ‘We’? This is all down to identity and how we assert our own personal identity in the context of how we are as a species. Be aware that there are classes within classes and that people will be constantly looking for ways to form splinter groups if they stop feeling comfortable or getting their own way.
‘WE’ are a collective. We are all living on the same piece of land and if YOU have difficulty with other groups of people due to social and cultural differences it is YOU who are just as responsible for that as it is the others. If you choose to be intolerant you are misusing your energy and creating the very problems that you are blaming others for. YOU need to look at yourself and assess how your words, thoughts and actions are coming across. YOU need to know that anger and gossip and intolerance are deeply divisive and YOU need to change your own ways and not sit around talking about how others need to change first. If other groups are doing things which are to the detriment of the collective then that is their problem, not yours, sort yourself out and all else follows.
Peace and love.