By Johannes Helmold
There are many scourges of modern society, such as consumerism, materialism, greed, vanity, racism, sexism, and more. However, I believe the most prominent malady of the modern era is ego. In fact, the ego might comprise most of the scourges we can mention. It is a normal occurrence for a person to have an ego, or a sense of identity. However, there is no need to indulge in it. Why is the ego the main scourge of modern society? Is there such a thing as a healthy ego? Without ego, there would be no war, no corruption, and no hate crimes. I will discuss these questions in detail in the following paragraphs by reflecting on my perspective.
War is based on ego. It is essentially saying: my country is better than yours, we have separate countries, and that we have something to gain from attacking you. The separation of countries also comes from ego. It is giving an identity to pieces of land, of which there are no actual boundaries. In fact, there are no boundaries in the whole universe. The names and borders that make up our maps and diagrams are completely human-made. The identification with one country and having pride in it is a product of the ego. Without this sense of patriotism, self-importance, and borders, wars would cease to exist. I would not say that defending one’s life against a threat is necessarily an expression of ego, but commonly the way countries, and the governments aligned with those countries, use their victimized state is to pump out propaganda and a new sense of ego. Being a victim is tragic, but there is no need to create propaganda in order to increase the ego of citizens. Defense can be acted upon without self-importance. It can be done with the purpose to uphold life and decency.
Corruption, as a manipulation of a system, is always grounded in ego. It is saying that this is the rule, and I know how to break it for my own benefit. Those without ego are aware of rules and try to not disturb the balance of society. Those with ego believe that the rules are not for them, and that they can bend them according to their pleasure. Corruption affects almost all countries at a local and state level. Without the indulgence in ego, this issue would disappear, as we would think of being in balance with the government and not cheating a system that would result in the loss of capital from others. The idea that the system is meant to be broken in favor of one’s gain only comes from a sense of self adoration.
Hate crimes are so common across the globe now that they seem to be ever-increasing, and even like business as usual. In countries such as the United States, major hate crimes are happening almost every week. Racism, sexism, and other “isms” can be clumped together in the ego. Once again, it is a conundrum of identity. Some people identify so strongly with a certain skin color, gender, and whatnot that they feel hate towards other people solely based on being different than them. The hate is so much that they even kill innocent people due to these differences. This can be said to be an extreme of the ego, where not only do you indulge in identification, but also pride, which gradually develops into a mental problem where one can see the world through a veil of racism, sexism, or another “ism.”
Noting the dangers of the ego, is there such a thing as having a healthy ego? I am not sure if having an identity is ever healthy, but I do know that having self-confidence is essential in order to not be dominated and to fulfill the tasks we set out to do. And what self are we discussing exactly? We are talking about our universal self that is pure consciousness within us. So, we must maintain our dignity by having self-confidence, but not an indulgence in identity.
I believe the ego is the main scourge of modern society, as it is the main cause of wars, corruption, and hate crimes. Without accepting the ego, these issues would not be present. What we need to do now as a modern society is to abstain from indulging in our ego, and to see that everyone around is doing well instead of looking out for our personal gain only.
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