All Together Now

Here’s another odd or at least interesting comment. From an article on global happiness and what seems to cause it and why Denmark is Topp.

Adrian White from the University of Leicester in the UK used the responses of 80,000 people worldwide to map out subjective wellbeing…He said he was surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th, because these are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

A strong sense of collective identity is associated with well-being? Well, if researchers have found that (but have they found it, or merely done the associating themselves? hard to tell) then perhaps it is. But it seems a peculiar idea. You could have a strong sense of collective identity as a pack of losers or failures or victims or starving downtrodden forgotten human refuse. Would that be associated with well-being? Or you could have a strong sense of collective identity as a pack of delusional unthinking ignorant fundamentalist god-besotted fatuous arrogant buffoons who elect such another to be the most powerful human being on the planet. That can happen. It happens to me whenever I read or hear an acid comment about Americans on the BBC or the Guardian. It irritates me, because it’s not as if he was elected unanimously, after all, but however much it irritates me, one, I understand the feeling of shock and disdain all the same, and two, facts are one thing and perception is another and that is the way a lot of people think of Murkans – Lionel Shriver just yesterday for example: ‘Apologies for the condescension, but honestly: when even the American public (more than two-thirds of whom support this research) achieves a consensus on an issue, it can’t be too hard to resolve.’ (Geddit? If even the notoriously dumb American public can figure it out, it can’t be too diffy.) That’s the perception, and I’m a Murkan, so when I read that that becomes my collective identity and I have a strong sense of it. But it’s not much associated with well-being.

In short, I can see how such a sense would enhance well-being under certain circumstances, but I can just as easily see how it would do just the opposite – and that’s before we even consider the claustrophobia of the idea. So – I thought it was odd or anyway questionable.

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