Monday, July 4, 2011
Declaring Interdependence: Throwing Away Your National Identity
“I’m a radical queer feminist vegan left-wing Karl Marx socialist and Unitarian Universalist secular Buddhist.”
Many of us prefer to identify with an idea of who we once were or who we wish to be one day, even if we spend almost no time at all engaging in any of the necessary activities that might make that particular label even remotely accurate:
“Although I work full time for the IRS doing audits and haven’t performed in over 15 years, I really consider myself an actor.”
Americans are very susceptible to getting swept up in a strong sense of national pride, or more accurately a sense of national superiority.
There are many things that are really, really wonderful about the United States--our naturally rebellious and pioneering spirit, and the immense volume of creativity and ingenuity that exists in the arts and technology, to name a few. Compared to some countries we’re light years ahead when it comes to fair and equal treatment, yet in other ways we lag far, far behind.
A proper understanding of the three qualities of existence can create the space necessary for living a life that’s sane and manageable. Realizing non-self challenges us to drop all of our familiar labels and to consider more deeply who and what we are, how dependent we are on all other people, communities and countries, and how fleeting, temporary, and ever changing this human condition of ours is.
This myth of separation we take for reality screws with our heads and causes us to feel like we’ve got to grab our share of HAPPY lest someone else get it first. So dark skinned people are seen as threats to our jobs and security, and freedom fries are invented when other countries aren’t as gung ho about going to war as we are.
It’s great to take pride in one’s country, one’s city, one’s family, one’s sangha. (I take pride in all of these things). But for today spend just a few moments considering what it would mean to drop all of the usual labels you use to identify yourself with, and instead declare your complete interdependence with every other nation and all other people in this world.