I could never agree with a person who had a deep loyalty to the geographic region they were born in or the ethnic roots of their parents.
With the rare exception of one who is born and raised in one area, moves himself to another, and decides that the new area has earned his loyalty through it's superiority. The loyalty of these people, I can admire.
But the kid in America with a Russian background who feels a great pride and loyalty to all things Russian would feel the same pride and loyalty to Italian things had they been born in Italy. This pride is not born of their country's superiority to another, but instead of the random chance of where they happened to be born. This pride is based in their ignorance of other countries.(This all applies to religious belief as well.)
And I see no benefit to humanity or the universe that is born of ignorance.
(checkout the much better looking post [and awesome pics] at http://wp.me/p2DV7c-ce)
Now, let's break it down...
I've explained my belief on having a loyalty to country (or religion or whatever), now let's get into my understanding of how this whole society formed and why this loyalty makes no sense.
I see the military and political leaders of my country as equal to the monetary and business leaders and the religious and social leaders and the leaders of helping the next generations grow themselves. (So I am just as likely to have a loyalty to the first business I encounter or the religion I am born into as to the country in which I have roots.)
I see them like this because, sometime before the agricultural revolution but after our evolution into homo sapiens (around the time we were drawing stuff in caves), humans lived in packs of around 5 to 15.
In these packs, each human would have a different role. The "Alpha Male" would be the strongest human in the group; He would protect the rest from dangers. The hunter/gatherer would be the fastest and most observational of the world; he/she would feed the group, and lead it towards resources. The unifier/philosopher of the group (who only appeared in human packs after we got smart enough to start questioning our existence) would be the best at coming up with good sounding answers to mind bending questions of "Why?", and give the pack it's existential purpose. And the whole tribe worked together to care for the new generation of humans and help them learn and grow.
Every human in the pack played each role to some degree (like we do today), but there was always one human that played it most often and most well.
But then humans evolved, and the size of our packs grew from 5-15 humans to 50-100 humans. There were too many people for one person to fill each role and take care of all of them, and there were too many people competing for each role.
The competition lead to each role being filled not by one person, but a whole group. Each group would have it's own leader, with other, lesser, leaders helping him.
And so the Alpha human became the tribe protecting group. The hunter/gatherer became the resource finding group. The unifier/philosopher became the religious and philosophical groups. And individual humans of the next generation were cared for the their family/friends instead of the whole tribe.
Now, we live in backs of millions of humans. The Tribe Protecting Group (previously the Alpha Human) has become what we call Countries & Governments. Resources have been replaced by symbols of resources (aka money); and so the Resource Finding Group (previously the Hunter/Gatherer) has become the Businesses & Banks. The Philosophical Group (previously the Philosopher) has become The Scientific Community; while it's counter part of The Religious Group (previously the Unifier) has expanded into The Religions. And the nurturing of the next generation of humans has become a mass teaching movement, teaching the most common/powerful beliefs held by the tribe of millions, and known as The Educational Institution.
This is why I see the government as equal to the religion as equal to the science as equal to the business as equal to the education. Each is simply filling a role in a human tribe.
And this is why I think loyalty to the first one you encountered is stupid:
The world has become so small and humans so smart that we can now choose our own leaders in each field, instead of following the same ones our parents follow.
Try all the new things you can, and learn about all the different things you can. Do not blindly follow one government, religion, belief, or institution of education, but instead explore them all and take the best parts of each for yourself.
You will then find/build those that match y0urself well. You will increase the enjoyment you find in life the more you grow your beliefs and choose your leaders.
If you always learn in all ways, you will become your own leader.
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. The other ones are weird religious inventions or consumerized hijackings of religious inventions. And sure, the origins of thanksgiving are a bit murky, but it's hard to argue with such a simple holiday: spend some time with your family and/or friends, and be thankful.
I especially like that it's about appreciating what we already have, taking a break from the distraction of every day life, and thinking about all of the good things that make it up.
Today, as I spend time with some of them, I've been thinking about how thankful I am for my family. I've always gotten along really well with my family, but since most of them were around by the time I was born, I'm sure I have a tendency to take them for granted. As a kid I always just assumed that everyone had a great family and that their family was behind them supporting them all the time. Then, as I grew up, I saw situations where that wasn't the case, and I realized how good I have it.
I have three fantastic siblings, any or all of whom I enjoy spending unlimited time with. We each live in different cities now, but when we're together it's like we're best friends. Besides a scuffle over a plastic ninja sword as a kid, I can't think of a single fight I've had with any of them.
Hello Mr. Marshall!
I have been a reader of your blog for quite a while now, and I decided it's time to try to connect with you. I am very impressed by the quality of your blog posts and I enjoy reading them daily. And I am aware that you don't have much time for reading emails lately (which is good, people reach out to you and they should reach out. It is great that you offer yourself like this!), so I'll try to keep my first email brief.
I am starting to grow an interest in existentialism, religious and spiritual philosophy. Since I'm just starting this field I would like to start off with the right material, so I was wondering if you could recommend me some books or other material on these subjects?
Of course I completely understand if you don't have time for it, or if this email flies right into the trash folder - some things are not meant to be.
In any case, I wish you kind regards. S