I Am An

I was talking with a my son the other day about group affiliation.  He is a freshman at college this year, and was just talking about the things he is learning about fraternities.  Of course, this made me cringe.  But that is my own opinions (the old adage about “buying your friends in a frat” come to mind), so I kept quiet while he went on.

He went on to talk about some other clubs and groups that are at his university, just trying to get a handle on what was available.  He is a smart kid, and doesn’t like wasting time with decisions which end up undone.

Then he asked me my opinion.  This was interesting, because I was unsure if my opinion would really matter while he was forging his own path.  But I gave it to him, regardless, hoping that he would at least understand what I was saying even if he disagreed.

I explained to him that group affiliation is something you have to be careful of.  Of course, there IS strength in numbers.  And larger groups tend to be catered to a little more just because of simple purchasing power and representation.  But these benefits come with some serious baggage in that you also have to suffer the consequences of the group.  For example, you may enjoy the fraternity until you are prohibited from doing something that you normally would have enjoyed due to rule or custom.

But it is even more than just this.  I wanted him to understand that the same could be extrapolated to the “macro”.  Look at the current political picture.  Very, very few American’s would support a line item review of their flavor of political party.  For example, my views lean strongly toward libertarian.  But I see value in some social programs (things where The People buy in to their own security using the “strength in numbers” principle), which makes me very “unliberterian”.

Similarly, my religious views.  I would mostly be classified as a “deist”, however can lean strongly in other directions with how I interpret my own views.  As well, the Christian influence in my life certainly has swayed my deist viewpoints towards the Judeo-Christian spectrum.

The point is, none of us are an “ist”.  We may try to classify ourselves along those lines.  But very few of us can actually fit into the small box with an “ist” label.  And while it may provide us some manner of insight into the mindset we are espousing to hang with people who share our viewpoint, at some point you have to make sure you are venturing outside of that circle to find opposing viewpoints and broaden your horizons.

It bears keeping in mind as election season approaches.  None of us are a “republicrat”.  And as we talk about this supposed “mosque at Ground Zero”.  Regardless of the group you have parsed yourself away in, you are still a human.  A single human.  Thus, when asked what you are, the only answer is “I am an individual.”

It is time to think outside the flock.  As individuals.

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