I wrote my offhanded response to David Brooks’ article, All Cultures Are Not Created Equal a few days ago.
The following are my brief thoughts while reading the 12minds response to that article.
why is the establishment of a group based on the establishment of the “other”?
… The argument is always along the lines of “We, Country A, are being hurt by the policies of Country B. Country B is therefore very bad while we, Country A, are correct and righteous.”
we are who we are because we are not them. they are bad, so we are good. we are right, so therefore they are wrong.
I guess some of it is sensical and simply the best we can do, but some/much of it is lazy and irresponsible — we defer to the easy answer. I there is light, there must be darkness. If there is white, there must be black. Everything has an opposite in our world, and we take that fully for granted. Hard-soft, heavy-light, smart-dumb, up-down, good-bad, heaven-hell, right-wrong. Maybe some opposites do really exist. But what if they didn’t? What if they don’t? What if everything does not have an equal and opposite reaction? What if everything does not have a perfect and extreme inverse?
1) how would our understanding of something change if we focused on trying to understand it by itself, rather than defining it by what it is not and comparing it to what it is not and limiting its possibilities accordingly?
2) how might our views of each other and our relationships change if everything were not external and conflicting?
Some people break through, and think way outside the box and invent amazing things and open new corridors of truth and possibility.
We take what we know and define the unfamiliar according to what is familiar to us. this is very logical, of course, but isn’t it apparent how this limits our learning and concepts of possibility? our minds can stretch; we can reach outside of what is common and comfortable to us, and consider unfettered dimensions and magics that are not actually bound to the rules we cling to.
and maybe if we were not so desperate to cling to an absolute truth…
I have this image in my head of a fish flopping out of water around on a dock. Except that the fish can breathe air, out of water. But he doesn’t know that. And he’ll never know that, cuz he’s too busy fighting the air all the time.
Maybe that’s a poor analogy, because some people will read that and say, “Well the fish is right… it can’t breathe air — duh! It needs to be in water!” 1) that’s definitely thinking inside the box, 2) it’s not completely true, either.
Nationalism parallels religiousness. they can be, and are usually meant to be, harmonious and social currents. however, when they are overzealous or charged,
1) the very common mentality of “us versus them” and “good versus evil” is present
2) blind faith
and i want to throw in 3) inability to adapt when their paradigm is thwarted.
main question is: What is the nature of loyalty and how do things push from respectful reverence to fervent dedication to obsessive faith to blind subservience?