Let’s start with Independent Man whose image stands atop the Rhode Island State House. He stands alone, but in more practical realistic terms, he doesn’t quite stand alone; but he tries.
That statue represents a person who rarely lives even one hundred years. He, with one or more spouses, produces a number of offspring. Eventually Independent Man and his spouse are gone. Maybe some offspring survive and the circle repeats itself.
So then what remains of Independent Man? Perhaps a soul, perhaps just a concept, kept alive from generation to generation through written records, memories and culture. This culture is passed down to us with statuary, architecture, pictures, sermons, songs, poetry, literature, Memorial Day oratory, and cemetery gravestone inscriptions. These are all parts of our patrimony and we revel in it. Daughters are sometimes named after their mothers and sons after their fathers. This cultural material is the basic building block of mankind’s Table of Organization.
Now we should consider the hypothetical brothers and sisters of that original hypothetical Independent Man and his spouse. They too are hypothetical Independent Men and Women – but they are not all like their parents. In fact, none are alike. They are not clones. Darwin tells us that we mutate in every generation and certainly you know you don’t think exactly like your parents thought. So now we have not one, but many Independent Men who don’t necessarily think alike on every subject or act alike in every situation.
So, we humans, we cleave to like-minded people, we join into family groups, clubs, tribes, clans, language, cultural, political religious groups that might emphasize our similarities, but sometimes as the numbers of members increase, differences become more and more apparent. Sometimes these differences become, or seem to become, so great that the groups split up. They even go to war to convert, or sublimate, or decimate, or exterminate those who differ. History is full of these conflicts.
To successfully wage these conflicts, cultural groups form into nations to consolidate their resources for such or bigger wars. Waging war is one reason for forming a nation. A nation establishes and defends its borders, raises armies, collects taxes and grows. So that’s still another level in the Table of Organization.
As we consolidate, however, we need to compromise some of our dogmatic cultures, language, religion or whatever. This is difficult. Do you know anyone today who speaks Esperanto? Who then gives up his independence in order to cooperate with other independent people. People who, like us, are far from being clones.
So now we experiment with a still higher level of organization like an empire or a league. One such league (The League of Nations) which was created in 1919 lasted 27 years and was then replaced by a facsimile with a new name. This is the United Nations and when push comes to shove, it seems to also be less than united.
To maintain membership all must compromise. If and when they compromise, they grind away on that cornerstone, Independent Man. So there goes The Table of Organization. Even the great religions of the world have this problem. They have become segmented to accommodate differences. For example, there are Catholic Bishops who answer to the Pope in Rome, but who may, if they wish, marry and raise families.
Among Jews there are Ultra Orthodox, and Orthodox, and Conservative, and Reformed. Catholics follow several rites, some of whom hardly know or recognize each other. Muslims of the Shia sect and the Sunni sect have lately been killing each other, sometimes with suicide bombers. Surely, these people are sincere. Protestant denominations abound. Some employ poisonous snakes in their rituals – REALLY!
Whole libraries are devoted to the storage of the records of oriental religions.
The same diversity found in religion, also obtains in how we govern ourselves. Through it all, I retain my guarded optimism for humanity, but I’m still prepared to risk my life to defend my status as an Independent Man. Boiled down, I would rather be dead than different.