Expanding Identification

      When we are born our world is very small. What we identify with begins at a personal level. We identify with our own physical body, property, and ideas. We may be hurt when they are criticized, and react strongly to defend them.
      We also learn to identify on a collective level. Identification with our family, clan, and race are extensions of identifying with our body. The city, state, and nation become extensions of our property. A person’s philosophy, religion, and ideology are extensions of one’s ideas.
      This natural process of expanding identification cannot stop there. If our sphere of identification is limited, then anything outside is a potential enemy. When the enemy is perceived as too threatening, we may justify killing. Wars result from identification that is too limited, confined to the collective and individual level.
      Our survival depends on expanding our identification to include the largest frame of reference, the whole of humankind, even our “enemies.” Realizing that we are neighbors forever with a shared, yet diverse, humanity, we can begin building our common future.

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"A human being is part of the whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
Albert Einstein

A spiritual expression of Expanding Identification by Rabbi Kook is at http://traubman.igc.org/song.htm .

Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
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Web: http://traubman.igc.org/

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