I’ve never been a huge fan of the political world, mainly due to the fact that it’s abundantly clear to me that greed and corruption are two of the main corner-stones to the entire system as it is practiced in most of the world. Real progress is stunted by the individual ambitions of the politicians who are meant to be the leaders of the “people” but seem to be more interested in amassing great personal wealth and power for themselves. The system is broken.
However, as a means of bridging the unconscious with the conscious in terms of collective ‘shadows’ and building the foundation for real societal growth, the political domain serves this purpose well.
I wanted to take some time today and touch on a topic that seems to be of great interest to a lot of people, Identity Politics.
The Sphere’s of Identity
Interestingly, asking the question “Who am I?” is considered to be one of the most profound questions an individual can ask themselves. Its a question that has the potential of uncovering the unconscious assumptions we make about our identity, which is something that powerfully influences how we make sense of the world and how we decide to live within it.
Our identity is the point of reference we use when we look out into the world and attempt to construct meaning and recognize what has value. Our identity is important and has the capacity for expansion when we move through the altitudes of consciousness; deepening our sense of “self” and the role we play in the world around us.
Now the concept of identity is more complicated then one might believe. There are several co-arising “spheres” which make up a person’s identity, just as there are multiple, co-arising “quadrants” which directly influence our moment to moment experience. At any given time, a person can shift from one sphere to another, aligning with a different level of magnification and therefore identifying differently altogether.
As we can see in the picture above, there are different levels of magnification for each sphere. We can begin by identifying with our personal gender, race, religion, philosophy, or political leaning. Moving to the next sphere, we can identify with a particular tribe of people such as friends and family, and so on and so on.
At each sphere or level of magnification, our identity moves from the individual to a larger group or collective. The self identifies with a larger whole, which in turn influences the meanings and values the individual has for themselves.
The Political Sphere and Group Dynamics
The sphere of politics is the bridging between the individual and the collective. It’s the “bottleneck” where the meanings and values of a group of individuals translate into the social mores of individual groups. Of course, not every value an individual may have will make it through this translation process, but that’s why we have a scale of political temperaments, from far right to far left, to make up for “value fall-off”.
When a person identifies with a specific political group, it’s a decision which reflects that persons core values and interests; what that person considers to be the “center of gravity” of their personal identity. One sphere influences the other, revealing that each sphere is not exclusive to the other, and directly informs the higher levels of identity magnification.
We engage with the political arena because we see meaning and value in deciding how, as a larger group, we should live in the world, treat each other, and deal with the more complicated elements of our collective, human experience. Each group has a different vision of how that should look, and thus we have the stage for political drama.
Now as we can see in our current political climate, the use of Identity Politics has become a growing concern, mainly because it has the potential of dividing a people rather than bringing them together. Identity politics tends to only focus on a single sphere of identity, and usually only at the tribal level of magnification.
The further repercussions of identity politics have been seen in the extreme cases of fascism and national socialism of the past, which without fail has led to the wholesale slaughter of millions. It is clear that whenever the sphere of identity is minuscule or exclusive to only a single sphere, things get very messy.
And it makes sense. The values of a specific group rarely if ever reflect the values and meanings of the larger whole which encompasses it. What is important to woman is not always important to men. What is important to the middle-class or poor is not important at all to the one percent elites at the top.
Now how do we resolve the conflict of their being differing values between groups?
I posit that the solution will be found in the individual bringing harmony to every sphere of identity, from the individual to the largest collective sphere, while having the various levels of magnification between these two being mere “shades” rather than the primary colors of our identity.
I think when a person makes the identity of their tribe reflective of their personal identity, too much is lost in translation. The focus is to narrow, the meanings and values of both the self and the greater collective whole are dissolved in the waters of ethnocentric primacy.
When a person embraces their identity as a human being which is reflective of both individual identity AND collective identity, the ensuing harmony allows there to be a more inclusive and holistic set of meanings and values to emerge. We can connect with others on even, consistent ground, and allow there to be a greater potential for peace.
In both the US and Canada, we see a growing divide between people because of how they identify, putting prominence in the smaller spheres in which they feel they belong. We can’t hope to make “America Great Again” or develop “Canada’s diversity and equality” and actually believe that we are not sacrificing more then we will ever gain.
I think if we shift the discussion to how a person can expand their sense of identity we can resolve the conflict and prevent the mistakes of the past from revisiting us in the present.