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Boys will be boys?
August 25, 2014

I have just watched a wonderful rugby match – New Zealand defeated Australia (perhaps their closest challengers) by a record score and playing at times quite sublime rugby. This was a game of men against men, all supremely fit and skilful, joining together in for all on the NZ side I would guess, an unforgettable experience of the team sublimating the individual. And it’s not just men, because England women have just won the women’s rugby world cup and played rugby of great skill and teamwork against worthwhile and talented opposition (beating Canada in the final).

Sublimation of the individual to a greater group is something that is part of all of us and can be experiences that we will cherish (and it’s not just rugby). But, these matches were played under well understood and delineated rules and limits and were officiated by referees whose decisions were accepted without any dissent. And of course for all of these players tomorrow comes and life changes back to normal – indeed the English women are all amateurs and have returned to being teachers, plumbers, vets and so on.

Which bring me to the brutality and barbarity of ISIS in the middle east. Recent events (included the death of James Foley but of course including the treatment of so many others) will have shocked us all (indeed shock perhaps does not do justice to our response). These are young men who have utterly submerged their identity into the group. This merging is total and for many will be all they will ever know. It is yet the latest manifestation of the complete and ultimate cult. And we need to remind ourselves that throughout history, cults such as ISIS have been used to justify inhumanity on an epic scale. Were the Nazis and the pre-war Soviet state so much different?

It reminds us also of the essential requirement that we must always retain - our autonomy. I talked of this in the 28 July Newsletter. However much we connect to groups greater than us and however worthwhile it can be, we should retain some separation and so capacity for independence.

best wishes

Andrew Richardson
94 Malford Grove, London E18 2DQ

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