GROUP MEMBERSHIP

First off, the term “group” here means more than one individual, i.e., two or more.  It involves the development of circuits formed by more than one brain, circuits of different brains functioning in conjunction with, in harmony with, and composed of some of the internal circuits in each individual brain.  It includes basic groups that humans have a propensity to form, such as a mother-child group or a romantic couple group, as well as larger groups where the members are connected more by their relationship with some central figure, usually an authority figure, than by direct relationships with each other.

Individuals may belong to many different groups.  But one of those groups is usually the primary group — the group in which they mostly operate and which they depend on in developing their model of the world and their sense of ethics.  They also will depend on it to provide sustenance and protection, and in turn they will be devoted to it and sacrifice for it.

Individuals are usually born into a primary group, though at times individuals could choose primary groups.  Smaller groups provide greater levels of trust and group cohesion but little security against outside threats while larger groups provide greater security with regard to outside threats  but offer poor group cohesion leading to conflicts within the group and internal security concerns.

Throughout the history of human civilization, humans came to belong to larger and larger primary groups, to the point that the typical experience is to feel overwhelmed and somewhat alienated by the sheer number of individuals within one’s group and to seek out subgroups to belong to with a stronger sense of community and to serve as substitute primary groups.

Note that every individual may, with some basis, be considered to be member of any number of such subgroups. The subgroup may be identified by nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, languages spoken, income level or wealth, professional degree, educational level, family status, health history, physical attractiveness, athleticism, height or weight, interests, etc…  Individuals often tend to claim membership in groups which have high or ascending status or for which membership provides some likely or possibly future benefits.

Also, note that given the number of subgroups that any individual may belong to, it is virtually inevitable that any individual may simultaneously belong to subgroups which were historically discriminated against and to subgroups that were historically advantaged (which may or may not have had the tables turned in their favor in the last few years). And so each individual feels pressure to downplay membership in the subgroups that bring to the members added burdens and to highlight membership in the subgroups where membership provides benefits, though this often leads to divisive and self-contradictory Identity politics.

Now, groups based on nationality, i.e., citizenship based on residing within a particular nation’s borders, is the most traditional grouping, and probably the healthiest and most sustainable type, because nations are somewhat closed systems that can resemble a tribe which is the traditional primary group, where people can work together and provide positive and negative feedback to each other to improve the general welfare, including establishing a functional political system that responds to the needs of all the people.  But Identity based on membership in a subgroup is problematic because subgroups do not form closed systems at all, and cannot form proper tribes, so there can be no healthy or functional feedback process to improve the subgroup’s general welfare, and so these subgroups may be seen as faux primary groups.

No matter one’s primary group or subgroup, one healthy goal for human individuals is to work toward creating the conditions under which the great majority of individuals consider their group to be the entire human race, which could eliminate dangerous conflict between groups, such conflict becoming more and more likely  catastrophic as technology advances. Given that all humans have so much in common, that virtually all of them can communicate with each other to a great degree, and that they are all ultimately related, the potential exists for forming strong agreement on common values and common goals in the creation of a harmonious and universally beneficial society.

However, note that a globalist governmental system at the present time would be too disconnected to provide any healthy or useful feedback from the common people or a functional political system that would respond to their needs, so a danger would be that it would end up being controlled by elites with the common people having no feedback and no influence, which over time would enfeeble and impoverish them and possibly even enslave or eradicate them.

Also, note that some would argue that a more laudatory goal is to expand the group beyond just the human race. The inherent difficulty with this position is that there is no natural place to make a boundary for the group. Does one cut it off at primates, at mammals, at vertebrates, at multi-celled creatures, or at animals? Since all animals are in constant competition with each other, humans have little in common with other animals compared to what they have in common with other humans, humans cannot communicate well with many other animals, and the number of other animals provides incredible information management issues, setting a boundary outside the human race is not justifiable. However, since humans do exist in an ecosystem that contains a myriad of other species, consideration of the impact of humans on those other species and on the ecosystem is essential regardless of where the group boundary is set.

One final note is that a very fundamental but rarely talked about truth in human relations is that since people were designed to live in small groups, but that they have come to live in large groups because of the advantages they bring, there is a yearning by each individual to be recognized by the large group, to be considered “special” by the large group, just as every individual is recognized in a small group.  This yearning sometimes becomes an unhealthy obsession, particularly since only a small number of individuals will ever be recognized by the large group.

In light of the above, children should be taught in school that: (1) everyone is special to themselves as they are the person most responsible for their own well-being and happiness; (2) everyone should be special to their close family members, including spouses, parents, children, and siblings; (3) everyone has the opportunity to make close friends that they can be special to; (4) few people are special to the large society and most of those are just special for a few years or even less; and (5) no people are special to the whole of the universe, as humans are too small, insignificant, and temporary.  Instead of focusing on (4), the great majority of people, especially young people, would be much better served if they focused on (2) and (3).

About John

Retired Attorney
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