Hello fellow men and women,
The older I get (which, sadly happens faster the older I get) the more I realize how silly the way we identify ourselves is.
With (or without) your permission, I will conveniently ignore sexual orientation for the sake of this discussion.
Having said that, what are the two most prevalent ways people identify themselves? I believe the answer is clearly – Country and Religion. Not necessarily in that order. “I’m an American“, “I’m a Jew“, “I’m a Syrian“, “I’m a Muslim” etc. Very simple.
See, I was born to a Jewish mother. That makes me Jewish by definition. I was born in Israel and that makes me an Israeli by definition. Ask yourself this question – what are you?
But does it really define my identity?
Does the fact that I was born in Israel identifies me? What is “Israeli”?
Does the fact that I was born a Jew makes me identify with ALL Jews?
“But Gil, we share a certain history. We share a destiny” I hear some of you say. To which I’ll reply “I also share history, fate and destiny with Native Americans, Armenians and many other people.”
How about people who like Rock? Do I not have more in common with them than with Israelis? Or how about people who believe in freedom of speech? Or people who oppose racism? Or people who play guitar when no one listens?
Sounds ridiculous, but why not simply identify as mankind? What’s my identity? a male human.
Some of the things that I always think about when I think of “Identity” are simple truths (at least in my mind). Like what happens during a “political” or “ideological” debate (honestly, one of the most futile and pointless use of one’s time). Because we identify AS others we fail to identify WITH others. We immediately fall into the pre-defined “camps” (right, left, liberal, conservative etc.) and fire away. We see things only from our perspective and refuse to acknowledge that others might be affected.
See, your pain is special because it’s yours. But it’s NOT more painful than another’s. Why do we think that losing our relatives, our possessions, things we’re attached to is more painful to us than to anyone else in these circumstances?
A-ha. Cause this “other” is identified as “other”. As an opponent. An enemy. someone else.
Understanding someone else’s pain doesn’t make yours any less significant, nor does it bind you to that someone’s ideology or beliefs.
I was waiting for some heavenly inspiration to find a clever closing statement for this post, but after all this is nothing but musings. So with these couple of Cents in your pocket I will wish you a good week and go back to living my life.
Until next time, feel free to give me a piece of your mind, like or share this.