Friday, September 01, 2006
People love, nay, I dare suggest they need, to gather beneath banners, to wear labels, to identify with a group, a tribe, a nationality, a religion. Going one's own way, content in their private beliefs, satisfied with their personal identity independent of of any one institution or political entity, seems to be difficult for a human being to live with. It seems we just simply have to belong. No man is an island, it is said.
Being an integral part of the collective can have it's advantages, as well as disadvantages, both for the individual, and the collective. The effects of this on the individual can range from the mildly bothersome to the downright oppressive, depending on the form of government the particular collective has found itself governed by. I say "found itself", because in most cases you are born into an established society that was formed long before you came along, in which you as an individual have little impact on, save for your individual vote, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy the relative joys of living in a democracy. However, your comfort level, being a part of this collective, is largely dependent upon how strongly the rule of law is obeyed, for selective enforcement of the will of the collective can have a disproportionate effect on you if you have chosen or have otherwise unwittingly found yourself belonging to the wrong subset within that collective. I think Jews, African Americans, homosexuals, and other distinct groups can testify to this fact.
So why in the hell would any one individual want to risk being identified with any one group within a collective, if the risk of being in the wrong one can cause you to have a somewhat difficult life, if not a downright short one? Well, it's a form of gambling, actually, that you have identified the right group to belong to, thus enjoying the power, prestige, or whatever protection belonging to this group can afford you. Now, this only applies to those who have the good fortune to have the credentials necessary to belong to these groups, such as skin color, socioeconomic status (most often times passed down to you by ancestry), or religious affiliation. If you don't have these basics, you are shit out of luck. However, presently, in this country at least, being white, rich, republican, and Baptist, you hold the keys to the kingdom. This will not always be the magic recipe, of course, for eventually the manner in which you handled your ownership of those keys is going to effect you, or your offspring, in ways that are proportional to the pain and suffering your stewardship caused others. Kenneth Lay, I believe, might be able to shed some light on this particular side effect of stewardship gone wrong. If he were alive, that is. The stress of an impending relationship with a cell mate named Bruce was probably to much for his heart to bear. So much for belonging to the right club.
So, what is the point of all this fanciful illumination? I have a suggestion. Exercise the power of ONE. Believe whatever you wish to believe, live your life according to any set of laws that float your boat, or at least keeps you out of trouble, but if you really want to enjoy the fruits of your own good sense of direction, avoid rock solid affiliation with any established group whatsoever. Oh, you can support a cause, talk up the good points of whatever philosophy makes most sense to you, but other than that, burn any card you might be carrying in your wallet, disincline to answer any question designed to pigeonhole you group wise, and keep your own counsel. When the lynch mob makes it's rounds, you won't have a big red target painted on your chest. When the trials begin, you won't have to attempt to parley that age old excuse, "I was only following orders." And last, but not least, you'll cut down on alot of junk mail, since no group will know you exist.
Till next time, this is THE Michael, brother to all, related to none..........