By the time I was 18 years old it was evident to me that groups of people behave in a unitary fashion. Every group I had been in — the province of Québec, Jehovah's Witnesses, my computer club — had an identity and a behaviour. Moreover, each group — each TSOTL, as I came to call it — protected its integrity like any other living being.
For they were indeed living entities. We no more see this than cells see that they are supporting a human. Here's a poem I wrote in 1999, entitled Cell Fish:
Consider the mitochondrion
Toiling away inside the cell
He comes to be, he does his job
He lives then dies, and all is well
The little beastie, working hard
Was happy in his way
Without delusions 'bout his place
He never thought to break away
Of course, his path was not a choice
From reasoning derived
Just as well! If he chose out
He wouldn't have survived.
So how do humans see the next level up? As gods, typically. What else could they be? And indeed, each such god had a spirit. Its pneuma moved through the lungs of every adherent to the cause.
All this was clear by the time I was 20. Yet it took me nearly 30 years to realize my place in this system — to see that I was just as much a product of it as anybody else. I was like a fish that didn't know it was wet (or "a fish"). I dove into the world of Skepticism, trying to find a scientific way out, but even science couldn't blind me to the truth that my individuality was a happenstantial construct.
And the battle goes on. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this.