With the tensions and reactions growing out of the controversies attending Brexit today (2019) in Britain and the presidency of Donald Trump in the U.S. many of us are hearing about some alarming human behaviors. For example, we have heard that 1 in 6 Americans are no longer speaking to a member of their family, a co-worker or former friend. Relationships have been ruptured. The important realization here is that these relationships were very tenuous to begin with and in fact were delusional. How so? Let us continue our search for the distinction between illusion and reality.
It’s crucial at this point to understand how human connections are created and maintained. A relationship between two people is contained in a story (a context of beliefs, attitudes and values). Each person has an identity (who he thinks he is) which is determined by his story (also called his worldview). And finally, his identity determines his behavior. A person who identifies as a Brit may exist in a different narrative than his neighbor. There may, in short, be more than one type of identity for a citizen of Great Britain.
Identities are rarely chosen consciously but rather tend to be determined by the ongoing story that we are born into in our family, religion, school, tribe or nation, for example. None of these stories are based on the reality of what it means to be a human being hence the tenuous connections among the citizens of the Global Village. For example, much of the violence within the human community can be traced to a belief in the non-existent other. (See Current Events # 20 Which Side Are You On Boys?)
Next we have Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Institute, a conventional thinker in the narrative that is collapsing before our very eyes. Nevertheless, notice how his information supports our contention that belief in the other helps explain the genesis of human conflict in the world today. “A 2014 article in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on ‘motive attribution asymmetry’—the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponents [the other] is based in hate—suggests an answer. The researchers found that the average Republican and the average Democrat today suffer from a level of motive attribution asymmetry that is comparable with that of Palestinian and Israelis. Each side thinks it is driven by benevolence, while the other is evil and motivated by hatred—and is therefore an enemy with whom one cannot negotiate or compromise.” (1)
However, we must know who we are before we can know who another person is and therefore make an authentic and sustainable connection with that person.
For more profound insights into the problem of tenuous connections and the role that our delusional identities play in this dilemma click on the link below.
Insight # 92: Ego is the self-consciousness which arises when the mental organ identifies itself with the body. – Shankara
- Self in this blog and in print in The ABC’s of Simple Reality: The Encyclopedia of Self-Transformation, Vol II (2018), pages 197-199, by Roy Charles Henry.
- Brooks, Arthur C. “Our Culture of Contempt.” The New York Times Sunday. March 3, 2019, page 9.