What do people here feel about the value of group association? By this I mean a person defines themselves by association to a group, ie I am atheist/spiritual/Liverpool supporter/dog lover/cat lover/rationalist etc etc, the main point is these are choices I have made, not association due to natural conditions ie male/white/Irish (although nationalism is a moot point) which I had no choice in (with nationalism I could choose to align myself with another nationality).
I feel that association is one of the most subtly provocative acts a human being can do. I say this as by choosing to associate with, I equally choose to disassociate with all those people outside of my chosen grouping. I also think that taking such a choice diminishes me as a person as my world/self subtly gets constricted by the over riding association.
To illustrate, I think we all know how people use filters to navigate the world to cope with all the messages hitting them daily. So to use the topical soccer analogy, if I carry my Liverpool supporter badge proudly and enter a group of people that happens to have a few die hard Everton supporters the dynamic of this will be different to entering the same group with undisclosed association – simple and even amusing – but change the association to christian/muslim/jew or communist/capitalist or materialist/spiritualist etc etc, the more passionate the association the hotter the oil hitting the water.
On the other side of the coin, the association gives me community, people to be supportive, a fulfilling personal feeling of belonging, confidence to stand up as I know I have people that have got my back so to speak, a common language etc etc. These are all very rewarding and helpful things that make it easier to negotiate life!!
But at what cost? World wars, hatred, dissonance, poverty, pain etc the ugliest side of humanity is the ultimate outcome of association. So here’s to liberty, equality and fraternity (at the natural lowest denominator) and lets break out the guillotines for the heads of the associations that dominate our world – or more to the point, here’s to the provocation for a good conversation!!!

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