Today people are focused more and more on themselves – with ‘worshipping the self’ – and aligning themselves with like minded people, in like-minded groups. Facebook and other social media lead us to surround ourselves with people like us – people whose views, opinions and prejudices are just like ours.
This identification with ‘my group’ leads to hardening of boundaries, divisive elections and divided societies. With too much of the ‘I’ and too little of the ‘we’ we become more vulnerable, fearful and alone.
With increased numbers of immigrants to Ireland we have an opportunity to move out and be challenged by those who are different from us. But as Rabbi Jonathan Sachs points out, many of us are opting to stay in our ‘hotels’. “what has happened in the West is that we have turned society into a series of hotels; you pay your bills which are your taxes and in return you get a room where you can do whatever you like as long as you don’t disturb the people to the left or right. The trouble is that no one ever belongs to a hotel so we are losing this concept of society as a place where all sorts of different people come together in the common aim of pursuing the common good. My favourite phrase in politics is, ‘we the people’ , because it says that we all share collective responsibility for our collective future and that is how things should be.”