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 despondency? 

One can be drunk on nationalism just as much on the ego and indeed they spring from the same psychological source. As the nation is an extension of the ego, competition and comparison is the expression of its divisive nature. It unites only as a form of separation. Without this separation it wouldn’t exist. And just as what is in the interests of the ego may not be in the true interests of its host human, so the perceived interests of the nation are not the same as its individual citizens. 

Nationalism is a cruel parody of the state of affinity available beyond the ego, free of barriers and restrictions and offering a different, more lasting elation than the hypnotization of flags and anthems.

Where does the compulsion to divide into nation, clan or even more arbitrary units as in sports come from? A game of competitive superiority or just a search for reassurance, something seemingly solid to hold on to? 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 but clearly nationalism is not one of them. Once started it has a chain effect on others in reaction to it. Nationalism is a contagious disease.

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 fixed belief at all is misplaced and ultimately harmful. Like a growing tumor ideology affects the brain in unexpected ways and makes an automaton of its host.

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 and doesn’t grasp 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 travelers will always be with us both as an expression of our need for comfort and illusion and the splintered and confused nature that results.

Understanding as art and science