Most things Divide, Few things Unite

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While most imagined ideas divide us as a society, three things allow us to engage, albeit gain momentum towards collectivity: money, politics and religion. 

In-group/Out-group (Apna / Paraya)

Our brains are wired to create psychological boundaries to define what’s in/what’s out. All species mark their territories: what is ‘ours’ and what is out there, ‘not us’. What is ‘us’ is then a subject of bonding and relationship: the family, the commune, the property we hold, our faith and beliefs. Naturally, to engage with the notion of what is ‘ours’, boundary conditions need to be imposed, be it a tribe or a church or a panchayat.

This bonding defines and overly crystallises a strong culture of who we are and how we do things around us. Culture is essentially then what divides us from others, but allows us to unite us amongst ourselves. The culture within is the power energy within to create the inter connectedness, within, yet it is also the basis for the fragmentation with that outside itself: the ‘other’.

The imagined notion creates the tradition, the rituals and the passage of what is the norm: that which is acceptable and that which is frowned. The culture flows from the dominant logic, the DNA of deep seated values over time, and the alignment of multiple infrastructure: Processes, Work systems, rituals, that allow for its prorogation.

Even within the commune, divisions and classes are created to sub-divide so that it helps each one to relate with the other. The very culture that is created meets it antithesis: the rebellious ‘sub-culture’ as its counterpoint. Paradoxically, the rebellion itself is coalesced within a structure such that the ‘sub culture’ itself is uniquely held. Way back in the 60’s, the US Culture gave way to the rebellious Hippie culture, the sub-set having a clear identifiable whole. Either one or its counterpoint are held in structure: both allow itself to confirm to norms.

Culture and beliefs are not similar

An important distinction to note is the term Culture and Beliefs: they are not the same. A member of a commune may subscribe to a culture, but arrive at it from a belief system quite different to another. Organisations that try to unify ‘beliefs’ pay the price of frustration, an impossibility. What makes Jack come to work ( perhaps job security) may be quite different to what motivates Jill (the cordial work atmosphere). Clearly, aiming for a ‘Shared Values & Culture’ with a north star of ‘Organisational Purpose’ is enough and can unite. Trying to change the individual belief systems of all of the members to a ‘common one’ would be fruitless and impossible.

The unknown ‘out there’ beyond the boundary is treated with suspicion: it is but natural that neighbouring countries would harbour distrust of each other. What is unknown, is distrusted, leading to splitting and projection. Trust in one’s own commune and distrust with those outside are the two natural axis of human emotions.

Within the commune collaboration can exist and extend itself on the imagined notion: a tribal chieftain will have tribal members, wealth would be jointly owned or secured through powerful laws and a religion would emerge that would unite the commune. So to, culture within an organisation. Collaboration works best when individual and group interests are conjoint. That’s the way it has been for many centuries: a world that belonged to many numerous small worlds.

So what would make one tribe engage with another?

I argue that it would be reasons of money (trade), a feeling of superiority of one’s religion over another or a lust to amass more political influence: to have a larger tribe, and soon a kingdom.

It is these forces that have paved the way for global colonisation, that has paved the way for mass religious conversions and where annexation has not been possible then the next best alternate is lucrative trade. Lucrative trade is but a start, akin to the East India Company that gradually harboured ambition for political power of the territory. It is this desire for political power that has created NATO, the Euro, and international federations.

The Imagined Order

The imagined order is what is. Fromm refers to Social Character, Harari uses this term. There is no reality. The imagined order is itself transient and changes with passage of time. The imagined order creates the values and laws for that transition art period of time then it adapts to a ever changing set of values for it to cope and adapt. All values are transitionary and would change. For what is created must change, and eventually die to a new form. That is an immutable law of nature.

One astronaut wisely remarked when viewing earth from a shuttle, that the earth was just one unified body Inter related and interdependent on its parts. He could spot no boundaries. All boundaries are man-made. The man himself is a bounded self: arising from a self-notion of what is him and not him. The ego in the self creates the boundaries within man, and around man. Ego is the false self. It does not exist. It is like the shadow that lurks around but is never there. It is the Ahamkara (one of the devolutes in Sankhya Philosophy) of the fusion between Prakriti and Purush. Our projection of ego creates the incessant needs that can never be satiated. Left to ourselves, sans ego, our needs would have been adequately met.

If we are to unite we must become fully aware of the forces within that divide! Like the article picture we are all unique fingerprints – there is no other like us. Our possibilities exist to connect with all unique beings!

What forces do you believe would support us to Unite?

Please join me and Comment on the Post.

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