Balkanization on the Individual Level

This left his eyes free to wander through the sights of Vancouver, which had not been advisable when he’d come this way on the velocipede. He had not noticed, before, the sheer maddening profusion of the place, each person seemingly an ethnic group of one, each with his or her own costume, dialect, sect, and pedigree. It was as if, sooner or later, every part of the world became India and thus ceased to function in any sense meaningful to straight-arrow Cartesian rationalists like John Percival Hackworth, his family and friends.—Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age, or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer

The above excerpt is from one of my favorite science fiction novels. In that novel, the world has splintered into many factions, along ethnic and value lines, and all of these different phyles with different value and legal systems interact through Common Economic Protocols (CEP). The author also predicted next-generation iPods about seven years before they were marketed, but that’s not important at the moment.

In this world’s system, you gather like-minded people and enough cash, and you basically can declare yourself a soverign state. Having done so, you are now free to do whatever you want within your own system. If it spills out and affects another phyle, the CEP will determine fiscal impact on individuals and society, and if there is none, remand you to your own phyle’s justice system.

In the book, there are mentions of times when phyles have split and splintered, leading to several thousand groups recognized by CEP, and probably thousands more thumping around. Whenever an individual had an issue with their current phyle, they just gathered like-minded complainants and wandered off to start their own tea party, where they no longer had to deal with those people.

Human beings are fractious, contentious people. It happens, and you can call it our fallen nature or free will or whatever, but we all desire balkanization on the individual level. We want to be surrounded by people whose beliefs and values are comfortably similar to our own.

Which really sucks for Christians.

Jesus is standing on the other side of our fortified walls, where we march in circles and congratulate ourselves on being the chosen, the saved, the elect. Jesus is calling us out, in schoolyard fashion. This kind of calling out guarantees taunts and teasing, uncomfortable situations, interacting with people who believe we have no rights. People who find our very existence repulsive and evil, a boil on the butt of humanity that needs to be removed, tout suite.

Did I mention that this concept sucks? Sorry, I misstated. It sucks like a sucking thing on Suck Day in Suckdonia.

Tough noogies, Jesus is calling you out.
What’s the matter?
Are you chicken?


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