Conflict of dust specks from a pale blue dot

Kosovo jingoist — To be or not to be — Asymmetric choices — Nietzche Groupthink — Vasudeva Kudumbakam — Pale Blue dot.

Is patriotism overrated?

Imagine a person, while on a certain occasion of triumphant glory hoists the national flag of Serbia while all of a sudden Serbia is no longer Serbia. It has become Kosovo now. If he had been 1.8 miles northwest of his current location, he could still be a proud Serb. But he is part of Kosovo now, and should be a respectful patriot. What he is not able to digest is the sudden division causing a tumultuous eruption of contradictory emotions.

Should he, because of the dispute burn the other flag down and hoist the Kosovo flag with an unmistakable devotion to the heritage of Kosovo and start treating all of Kosovo’s citizens now as his/her brothers and sisters.

To be, or not to be. That’s the question.

Borders are formed and borders are wiped out. It’s an ever changing dynamic. What to speak of borders, even continents are moving away, are drifting towards each other (Agreed. It’s just 2.5 cms per year, but we still need an holistic theory that doesn’t change with time, right?)

Of course, I do agree with the fact that our System 1 response towards patriotism is not just the flag of the country the person is associated with. It’s the whole combination of factors (Language, culture, social norms, lifestyle etc..) A liking is acceptable but what hurts me is the deviancy towards jingoism which triggers a false-alarm inside me.

When the society blindly accepts what the state accepts to be patriotic manoeuvres, It leads to a lot of mistakes. Jingoism drove the imperial wars of Uncle Sam in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

And the advantage is that the collective opinions of en masse just sweeps away the original (perceived to be radical) ideas of the individual. That is to be or not to be a jingoist.

What’s this collective opinion? Where is it’s head? I dont know. All that’s happening is individual utility is getting endangered, through subtle subconscious following. It’s simple dynamics, actually. You are part of a group containing 100 humans. The remaining 99 humans want war. You are compelled to ‘group-think’ to agree with the collective although your individual opinion doesn’t sound so favourable. You don’t voice because it’s a simple asymmetric choice (Less probability of). The negative cost of you sticking your point out, would eventually be bad mouthed by other 99 humans (Such a prick! Everyone has agreed except him) just overwhelms the positive cost of you just agreeing with the others and get done with it.

A simple asymmetric choice. If you are given a random bet where one a flip of a coin, if heads you get 50$ and lose 40$ on tails, Will you still pay the game? No. You are a victim of loss aversion.

The phenomenon of loss aversion gives us some interesting insights on how it couples with Nietzsche-esque group think leading to more violence and deaths owing to cognitive dissonance in societies.

When you can trigger a bomb strike at the click of a button, you start getting detached to the end result. There is absence of skin-in-the-game, unlike the ancient times where you camouflage the dagger in the cloak, or fistfights for that matter.

Information abundance is also one of the contributing factors for this cognitive dissonance. When you see yet another Facebook post on the malnutrition of Somalian kids (with strong visual imagery), you no longer feel sympathetic about it. A form of technology induced disinterest because you cannot possibly feel sympathy for all the thousands of articles evoking similar emotions. Everything is available at the click of a button and that’s where the problem lies.

Even if sympathy is induced, it is very fleeting because of the causal attention deficit disorders of people in this Twitter age. War is becoming more instant and comfortable to trigger, more robots and drones that could do all the damage, shifting the emotional and cognitive load from the humans.

As the plausibility for a full-on war against Pakistan is evident after the Uri attacks, I wonder how much of the individual opinion is mired in the chaotic collective causing jingoism? Boycotting Pakistani TV shows and giving notices to their celebrities, how can it lead to peace? What harm did the artists do? If that’s how we are, I still have doubts with respect to Stephen Pinker’s hypothesis that violence has decreased significantly over this millennia owing to institutionalization. Our primal instincts are still intact, which includes territorial aggression.

Vasudeva Kudumbakam translates to -The whole world is one family.’ A global village. Take it even more further, and broader. This planet called earth in this solar system. This solar system in this Milky way galaxy. This Milky way galaxy in this so called Universe.

We are just a single freaking pixel. And here we are fighting. The opinions, disputes, war and violence seems so absurd from the Pale blue dot perspective, as Carl Sagan puts it. We don’t have to ponder deeply into the existence of our lives to realise this absurdity of our existence, our rituals prove more than enough. And the blinders effect to war is one amongst them.

The conflict of dust specks from a pale blue dot.

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