I find it fascinating that we all grasp for outside structures to define who we are inside. We belong to a church or defend our patriotism with a gun because, without the church or our nation, we are winging it in the world, rather like that space guy in the movie "2001" that Hal cut loose. It is scary to lose the anchors of our being.
One can find enrichment in the church, without question. But one can be a highly moral or even spiritual person outside the church. One can thrive inside one's nation. But one can also soar and grow rich, internally, amidst the inevitable dramas of surrendering to a different culture.
Similarly, one can either listen to what others say, and repeat them. Or one can look about to decide what different people say, look for facts, and make up one's own mind. In our reality-bound sound-bite world, it is easy to generate sense out of nonsense, like the notion of Sarah Palin being president. It is more difficult to generate sense that is anchored in truth and goodness.
I am fascinated by Philippine culture and how the dominance of Ego anchors the dysfunction that keeps the nation from becoming modern and productive. Taking care of self. It is the basis for the trade of favors that sees cousins and classmates appointed to important jobs instead of competent people. It is the basis for corruption that sucks off the wealth generated by the many for the benefit of the few. It is the basis for trash and dogs on the roads and guns in the holster and massacres and extrajudicial murders and every other negative nuance of a country struggling.
When Filipinos can get outside themselves to take care of others, it can become a modern, productive nation. Until then, it is a haphazard collection of Egos. People hanging onto themselves because they can't depend on anyone else.