Solidarity feels wonderful to those within a group and expressing their solidarity in various ways both private and public. Why, being able to publicly express your togetherness and unity of thought is one of the most appealing things about any kind of purposeful meeting of like-minded people. Any group of people can devolve into a mob, but with effective leadership the group can become a powerful voice for whatever it is propounding; it will easily recruit converts as well. However any time a group finds itself in the power of a dynamic leader, they may be headed for a fall or disillusionment; for once the consensus has left the group and the group members are in thrall to the leader and the leader’s coterie, and then – a class system is born; one that might make sense at the beginning of any leader’s term, but when allowed to continue, does continue with the separation of groups. At that point it is very difficult for the groups to come together again, or even to admit that they once held similar or the same views. This is where commonsense begins to disappear when merely a sense of common goals or feelings held in common could benefit us all. Isn’t it a shame that we don’t seem to be capable of even that?
Nothing gives some people a feeling of stature and importance that having a uniform and wearing it well. Just as some have an ineffable air about them when wearing civilian clothing, they may not appear that way in uniform. For a number of people a uniform serves to focus their sense of identity and identify their sense of purpose, whether for others or for themselves. For many, many people a uniform has become a symbol despair and terror, and not for the unity and leadership hoped for. This can be very confusing, even within a culture, since it seems no one knows whether to trust a military uniform anymore, the uniforms of caregivers cannot be told from anyone else’s street clothing, the men’s or women’s business suit may still be prevalent, but not for long. Athletic teams uniforms are surviving well, but, even if not true, athletics symbolizes the best in us. And there are people who celebrate uniformity of mind, education, and action for personal reasons or because of megalomania. Like the majority of things that are or that we think, there are at least two sides to the story. Before judging anyone for their opinion or action in a story, shouldn’t we at least read the book?
Symbols are valuable as grounding and unifying objects; when groups of people are thrown together or choose to join in a common cause or purpose it is essential to choose a symbol that all can identify with and that can mark each person as a member of that particular group: a school or a competitive team, a state or a nation, a group protesting or advocating for a joint cause. One must be careful, however, not to identify too closely with a symbol, be it an animal or plant, a song or a document, or a leader or a slogan because if one becomes very closely identified with a symbol, one tends to lose their own identity and believe things about themselves that are not true. One must retain one’s own identity to remain an effective member of a group; to add anything new and innovative to the group one must preserve perspective. symbols, by their very presence, affect emotions in a mostly positive way and promote a feeling of community that we sorely miss in these times. A symbol, thoughtfully recognized and not abused, is a powerful tool for groups to have, not for individuals to cling to. Do you respect and get moved by the symbols in your life?
We can and have glanced at or watched situations in which someone has taken over another’s territory physically, mentally, or emotionally. We assume that we will never find ourselves in such a position; but we may very well be wrong about that and find ourselves there in spite of ourselves. Those who co-opt others’ places, intellectual property, or friends and family tend to insinuate themselves slowly and carefully into their victims’ lives so that each intrusive step taken doesn’t seem intrusive. Barely noticeable as those steps may be, they still add up and soon we may find ourselves out in the cold and powerless in more ways than one. Frequently there is a slight aura of discomfort emanating from people who poach, a hardly noticeable whiff of overconfidence and entitlement that can be easily waved away as we tell ourselves that it isn’t real and isn’t this person really a good, kind friend? It is here that we must tap our own confidence and have enough of it to trust our own instincts and gut feelings. After all, that’s part of what instincts and hunches are for: to help protect us and warn us danger in its many forms. Acting on those instincts, particularly when being co-opted, shouldn’t be a matter of deliberation and hesitation. If we can’t trust ourselves to act in our own interests, who can we trust to do so?