Are we loyal to anything anymore?
Loyalty… initially it was all about scale. The oldest loyalties were to family and community, with feudal lords and monarchs demanding homage, military service and more, but all remained personal. God was the ultimate loyalty, felt more or less personally.
In our modern world we’ve meticulously taken out each one…
Family: from extended to nuclear to co-habitation and quick divorces.
Community: local identity undermined, as towns and cities became amorphous and suburban, and central squeezes local
Central government: the pride in and loyalty to a new-style representative government that first took root in the 16th century now undermined at every turn by a scornful and unregulated media
God: out there, in his heaven, expected to interfere to save us from natural catastrophes, rejected if he doesn’t.
It’s down to us at each level to redefine our loyalties, and build on what we have and not join all those willing to tear it down, with nothing to put in its place.
As for God, he isn’t out there to judge us or for us to judge him. He’s within us, beyond any notions of self, a place equally well-known to Buddhists, where we can find compassion, and joy, if we’d only allow ourselves to explore. There is a transforming power that could work in society if we’d only let it.
We sometimes drift in this blog a little too far from zen politics. This takes us back to basics. Community isn’t just about adjustments to the way we behave to each other, fascinating though the work of behavioural economists is. It may be open to adjustments or nudges by government to help us behave better toward each other, and make our lives, our schools or communities better places. But ultimately it’s about what lies within us, and how we care about everyone, family, stranger or the furthest flung foreigner.
It’s not so difficult, but it does require we open our eyes to the possibility, and there isn’t even a semblance of that happening in ordinary secular society out there.