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.
I've wondered a lot about this tendency for people to latch on to 'the first'. I've found the concept of 'soul age' to be the one that makes the most sense but that delves heavily into new age-ish territory so most people won't find that popular. Basically the concept of soul age comes about if you believe humans reincarnate and have a sort of persistent intelligence/consciousness that travels between reincarnations. People who tend to latch onto the 'first' are just younger souls who haven't experienced a lot (not many lifetimes) yet so they stick to what's familiar. Think about your 'first time' with anything and how much better it seemed than all the subsequent times (or realize how bad it actually was but you were too naive to know back then because you had nothing to compare it to). I'm not sure if I want to get into this further as it literally opens an entire Pandora's box of world-shattering beliefs.
Heh I was reading your description of the religious as unifiers and that sounds a lot like me in my present state - always looking at the world and seeing how it connects to each other and deriving insights from that. Despite the religiously themed name though ironically I am not religious at all but spiritual. If this were a game I think a spiritualist would be kind of an upgrade from a religious person. What's the next level of upgrades for a spiritualist? I'm thinking psychic maybe or one of those enlightened beings that just makes stuff happen around them paranormally due to a full 'knowing' of the nature of reality.
First of all, HELL YEAH to the enlightened being upgrade. It's immortality and mind over matter from here on out! xD
I see most religion as outdated. It's benefits just don't outweigh it's deficits any more. But spirituality makes sense; it's just kinda saying "No one knows the answer, but here's a theory worth operating on".
That young souls bit seems interesting; does it have any real-world applications or is it simply an interesting talking point?
Talking point mostly but it helps you understand and feel compassion for people instead of wasting all your energy wondering why people are the way they are. Notable examples of young souls imo are Bettie Page who converted to religion after doing fetish modelling for most of her life and Johnny Cash who spent a good part of his life in prison before he did music. Tom Cruise and his abrupt and total conversion to Scientology may be another example. Generally anyone who's suddenly had a religious conversion and becomes a die-hard fanatic or anyone who just does crime after crime and repeatedly gets themselves in jail is likely a young soul. They are the equivalent of children - given that can you really get mad at children for being who they are? We were all once children too and probably made/continue to make the same mistakes. As insensitive as it sounds that drama filled middle east region - just kids at play. If they all wanted to they could decide to co-exist and forgive each other and work together to solve their issues but instead they actively choose to escalate force as part of what they want to experience. Maybe I just feel sorry for the ones who don't want to play anymore trapped in the drama.
What's funny is I used to be a fanatic on the other end - constantly telling people how shallow their lives are and telling people to wake up to the truth and all that jazz. The backlash was enourmous and I don't do that sort of evangelization anymore. My big lesson there was that people will do what they want to do and irregardless of how right/wrong they and they still want to be respected and loved just like any other human being. I did a lot of reflective writing on such topics on my old blog at http://truthseeker1234.wordpress.com if you're interested in taking a look. I've since then put all my focus back into reality 'as is' and trying to improve myself to create a perfect expression of soul through physical body. As high strung as that sounds a lot of it involves grounded things like discipline and working on power/will with the occurences of everyday life being the weights with which we practice.
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