We are being subjected to a concerted campaign of deliberate nullification of any sense of who we are. Can we recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror when most of the face is covered with a mask and a pair of anxious eyes looks back at us? Is this us? Is this you or me? Is anybody home? How can you tell?
The deliberate stripping of individual identity is a technique practiced under certain specialized circumstances. Sometimes this happens in the process of initiation into a particular group, whether religious or secular. Nuns, army recruits, and prisoners of war are shorn, and new clothing provided to cement a new identity. A group identity supersedes former loyalties. The individual is renamed: given a new personal identity within the group. Rituals and ceremonies are performed as the person is inculcated into the ways of the tribe.
Because the new individual identity is within the auspices of the group, this identity is subordinate to the norms and dictates of the group, the tribal taboos, the customs of the new country. Thus, one can be censured for insubordination, and if necessary re-educated, the indoctrination refreshed, ground in deeper, as in degaussing a magnetic tape.
The boundaries of traditional identities are being blurred, even erased. It is becoming politically incorrect to use terms like man and woman, parent and child, brother and sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, cousin and any other label of this kind, including personal pronouns. One wonders who is the Miss Manners making these rules?
Within a religious order or army unit, obedience is seen as freedom and a source of pride. The relinquishment of the individual ego frees the acolyte from ordinary concerns to be part of a higher destiny, perhaps to be “bound for glory.” Or maybe glory will bind them. At any rate, the discipline of the order requires strict subordination to the good of the group. Sometimes the ultimate sacrifice.
Love and loyalty demand, if called for, the laying down of one’s life for the greater good. Perhaps like the Carmelite nuns of Faure’s opera braving the guillotine, or stout-hearted British soldiers on the eve of battle in Shakespeare’s Henry V. “Cry, God for Harry, England and Saint George!”
Now the people of the entire world are asked to lay down their lives for the good of all. I don’t remember signing up, do you?