We are all individuals, or are we? Most of us don't stop to think about this question as we trot down the pavement, on the way to work, followed by our lonely shadow. Bored on the bus, we oft feel the need to strike up a conversation, feeling all so alone in our head. If we really want to be honest to ourselves, we are physically alone in this world, and so we can only really count on ourselves in the end. But we reach out, we converse, socialize, have friends, colleagues, family, a wife and children - we surround ourselves with a makeshift illusory world to prove to ourselves that we are not alone. Believing our own illusion and readily immersing ourselves in it, we begin to focus on our differences, in order to identify ourselves in our local network. Imagine the horror of joining a school of fish for life - you will cease to exist as a "unique" individual. Thus the fear of assimilation, drives us humans to self-identify as unique elements of the crowd.

Inventive as we Homo Sapiens are, we have developed seemingly efficient methods for proving our individual uniqueness. Whether it be our hairdo, clothing style, or our plethora of gadgets, we all fall into the pit of self-identification via materialism. Our development of self is much more than that though. It is essentially a process of dichotomies, a series of 0-1 yes/no questions we ask about ourselves, regarding both material and less-often immaterial topics. The latter is what we usually call our "world view". We examine every possible attribute we encounter, and choose whether to identify with it or not, via our thoughts or feelings or both. Is this process always critical and efficient? For some people yes, for others maybe not.

Some like to leave more gray area for themselves than others, choosing to just "go with the flow". Others have well-defined principles and have a precise idea of who they are at the core, potentially isolating / alienating them from immediate society. Some who prefer to "go with the flow" often end up just where the flow takes them - in some niche of society that has a ready pre-established value system, which one can simply call their own. Their identity becomes synonymous with that of the group. Will the person self-identify as unique? From the local perspective of that group, not so much, but from a global perspective, the group may indeed be quite unique im/materiallistically. Whether it be goths, skaters, the maffia, or geeks, the pitfall of "going with the flow" can render our effort at self-identification ultimately futile.

So how can we find ourselves? Should we opt for the chilling dichotomical knives of inner principles, or should we go with the flow? Or is it neither / both? Is there a middle way of balance? These are immediate and prolonged questions we face throughout our lives. Sometimes their resolution - final self-identification itself - may indeed take a lifetime (or longer...).

Is separating ourselves from the rest of the flock really our goal in this life though? Or is it rather the exact opposite - recognizing our similarities? Is that not the way to peace and happiness? When WW2 soldiers traded cigarettes for food with the enemy during ceasefire in the trenches, they realized just that - our inherent similarity as human beings. They could have put down their weapons right then and there, and end the war. Ultimately our differences, whether in race, religion, or gender, become irrelevant in face of our similarities.