Independence day is a great time to (re)start a blog on independent thinking, and what better subject than the flag.
- If you see an American flag outside a house, odds are the owners are Republican.
- In Britain, the ultra-right National Front incorporates the flag into its logo.
- In France, the far-right Front National uses the French tricolour as its symbol.
What is this about?
It’s about boundaries – the point at which we distinguish between self and other. Once the concept of self forms, the range of beings with whom we empathise increases as we mature. Family, tribe, region, country, humans, higher primates, all living things; this progression seems a part of growth.
I don’t want to disparage boundaries; they’re a necessary feature of the world. I’ll come back to this in a later post. Nonetheless, the issue is one of identity; although we think of ourself as ending at our skin, this is a very limiting and incorrect view.
There are two ways to investigate the incorrectness: introspection, which I shall not deal with now, and thinking.
- Your body contains hundreds of other species: microorganisms necessary for its very survival, see the Human microbiome project.
- You are intimately connected to your family, both psychologically and genetically.
- You need the cooperation of others to survive unless you plan to make your own steel, clothing, food, medicine and entertainment.
- You are the same as every other person on this planet as far as species classification goes.
So drawing the line between my tribe – good – and other people – bad – is to chop off and deny part of what we are. The flag is a symbol of this immaturity. Grow up.