Identity: Me, Them – Us

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Dec 11, 2020 by Rua Lupa

I am someone raised in Christian Conservatism and was aligned as such for most of my life, having since held different beliefs for almost a decade now. It is through this experience and independent cultural studies I have learned that Conservatism represents having an inherently Insular background that, in North America and a lot of the world in general, is traditionally Abrahamic in belief structure (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). Being insular means there is an automatic tendency to reject anything that differs from that cultural sphere – it being a manifestation of fear of the unfamiliar.

Everything that you see arising there from appears contradictory because it is a form of Cognitive Dissonance – trying to protect your beliefs meanwhile rejecting anything that conflicts with those beliefs. An act of self preservation that all too frequently manifests in destructive narratives – the stories we tell to justify rejecting something that challenges what you have made a part of your identity. This is something that everyone is vulnerable to – Identity Politics.

We all have an identity, it forms who we present ourselves as and informs who we align with. It is something we do not really talk about outside of an Us versus Them narrative though. I think that should change, because I believe that is where most of our societal conflicts stem from.

We all too often fixate our energy and time on the surface of Identity – I am a (insert belief structure), I am against (insert object of fear). With so much attention to these surface identity issues we tend to not ask the Root Identity Questions – Why do I believe the things I do? Where do my fears come from?

A simple question for identity reflection is to ask, “If I were born in a different group of people would I have different beliefs?” With that thought hanging, imagine your potential other self living the life experiences you would have through the trials and tribulations of the place and people in the same time frame. What would your 10 year old self be going through? Take the time to find out the local political underpinnings then and there. Why did these things happen? Here is how we begin to see History and Culture as very much the same subject as you truly cannot separate one from the other. Continuing with such thought experiments with different people and places you can reveal how choices that are seemingly so far apart are connected and still influence our lives today. We can see how not only are we all connected but are really not all that different from one another.

So the next time you see identity conflicts, hopefully you see how throwing verbal stones to point and laugh at our identity differences harms not only them but ourselves too and those who follow us. Hopefully you instead choose to reach over to their island of identity and show how we are all in this world together, by dissipating their fears with exposure to other beliefs and identity. This has proven to be the most successful course if you truly desire a change for a more Just and Fair society.

It helps no one to wilfully ignore the diversity that exists in our world. Let’s take the time to get to understand each other better.

See more background details in ‘How Cultures Form, Cultural Conflicts – Our Human Story‘, and ‘Worldview Connections: A Meditation on Our Worldviews and their Impacts

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