More and more nowadays people identify with a group: LBGQ, Atheist, Christian, anti-trump, pro-Trump etc. The problem with this is that having identified with a group they have given up their own authenticity.
I’ve seen may articles, for instance on Quora, where people who identify as Atheist talk about experiences they have had and then write something on the lines of “… but of course as an Atheist I don’t believe this was anything other than my imagination” etc. In other words, having decided (sometimes at a very early age) that they are an Atheist, they then feel they are unable to question this view. People who have labeled themselves ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’ find themselves having to support any cause that their group goes along with. They don’t want to alienate themselves from the group, and in fact they have lost the ability to be discerning. Instead of having to analyse what someone says, if you can label them as being a supporter or opponent of your group and take a stance accordingly, it makes life much simpler.
When I was very growing up my father was a staunch Communist and would read the Daily Worker (which later became the Morning Star) and would not have a view on any political or social issue until he had read what the party line was. When I was at college many people had the same attitude to the Guardian newspaper. Nowadays, people look to their social group online in order to ascertain what their opinion should be. They have lost any ability to form their own views.
Kids ‘come out’ as gay or transgender when they are as young as 5 or 6. Having labeled themselves as such, not only do they become fixed into this mindset but so do the people around them. Many kids go through phases of being gay or feeling they are in the wrong body. This is not necessarily being gay or transgender, it may be just a phase. Just because a boy wants to dress up in girls clothes or play with dolls doesn’t mean that he is transgender, but nowadays they get labeled and once the label is applied at an early age it is difficult to remove later on.
I’ve even seen people who were strongly Christian ‘come out’ as gay and then adopt entirely the views of their local group, which are often diametrically to the views they used to have. They have swapped one social group for another.
To a certain extent, these social groups are arbitrary. People can be so identified with their group that say that they would die for their cause, but their views came from their peers and their upbringing (even if it is a reaction to the view of their parents). If you take any social opinion such as whether you believe in God, do you agree with corporal punishment or the death sentence or abortion or so on, and you will find the results differ enormously by country. Of course everyone believes that the people who have very different views from them are indoctrinated by their culture.
It would be too easy to say become authentic — true to yourself. It’s the easiest thing to say and the most difficult to do. What you can do, though, is question your assumptions. When you disagree with someone look at the assumptions they make and the assumptions you make. Even when you read what I’ve written here.
By Philip Braham on .