The Illusion of Identity

Out in the streets throughout the world on national days there are parades of the mentally ill, flag-wavers of various stripes strutting to concepts of separation that exist entirely in their heads. The fractured minds that create our fractured world. Is nationalism a cause for celebration or just a sign of base urges and is it only made reasonable by its seeming universality? It’s the need for a outer strength that’s a consequence of a inner weakness that both are fake anyway, an unnecessary feeling of defenselessness. It is to have lost and to seek in vain to regain.

Identity clearly has a powerful and lasting effect on the human mind but where does the compulsion to merge into nation, clan or even more arbitrary divisions like sports fans come from? Is it the usual game of competitive superiority or just a search for reassurance? The more confused and unsettled the mind the greater the need for strident identification it seems. Individuals who feel themselves vulnerable are the most keen to be at one with a supposedly greater whole. In its way it’s just another form of sham spirituality but even more removed; it’s for those who’re not even aware of the real thing.

Some forms of “living in your head” though unadvised cause relatively little damage to the world. Clearly nationalism is not one of them and this has to be frankly recognized before blindly indulging in it.

 The mind will grab almost any delusional belief to hand if it brings self-satisfaction; narcissism and group identity no less so than religion. Perhaps it’s even slightly less ridiculous to believe that the earth is the center of the universe than that oneself is.

Indeed it may well be that any belief at all about an entity as nebulous and constantly changing as the human mind is misplaced. 

The lure of conclusion, either as an individual or collective can be countered only by a passion to explore consciousness itself.  It’s found that bare unfiltered awareness is provisional, is happy with ambiguity, doesn’t grasp for what’s seemingly essential for a solid sense of self. It requires a firm commitment to reality to be tentative, to deny the security of finality. It’s the frightened who insist on certainty.

But the flag-wavers and fellow travellers will always be with us as an inevitable expression of our splintered and confused nature, of our need for comfort and illusion.

Understanding as art and science