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It's not Our Selfish Ego, it's Displacement Activity
Our self image in the form of our physical appearance from the outside was always an important factor for cultural identity. Probably since the 1850's when mirrors became generally available, our individual physical appearance has become central to our self-identity. In the developed world, we have all our ancestors ever wanted, and wanted for their children. The deep-freeze is full, we've got hot water bottles, peanut butter and houses of brick. And we are full of our own individual views and opinions on life, and have stopped listening to anyone who disagrees.
We're showing symptoms of extreme vanity, greed, and conceit, but i DON'T believe that it's our selfish ego which is the cause. It is our insecurity.
The reason modern human life is insecure, is because we have lost the mutual confirmation of a social group, a group of at least 30 people who all believe, unquestioningly, in the same things.
In ancient cultures, a common understanding of life - the beliefs and customs, united a tribe. In the modern diverse culture our same basic understandings of life, have no common confirmation. Any trace of the original animal sense of belonging is long gone; and now we have even lost the mutual support of our tribe. Our lives are insecure in a way no humans in any previous culture, have ever experienced, or even imagined, and so, we all still feel very insecure. ...
We have developed a form of over-compensation with our focussing activities: thinking, understanding, getting, doing, creating; having beliefs, ideas and opinions. ... then what else is there to do?
We have collectively developed, what has become a form of displacement activity. Displacement activity is when hens scratch and peck at nothing, just because they feel insecure; dogs and cats clean themselves when they actually want feeding. Any habitual activity can be displaced. We are displacing with our focussing abilities. Everyone is doing it all the time. It is culturally confirmed. Some sort of focussed activity is the only thing everyone agrees on. It is an unspoken belief.
The continual thinking in terms of focal points, an aim, a reason to live, is all we know. We've lost the broadband balance, and we can't expect to feel safe or whole (in this modern diverse culture) without it.