Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Monday, August 22, 2005

on identity

I started reading the library book I got on identity and it is solid so far. How DO you identify yourself?

I am Canadian - I was born here and I have only lived in other countries for 6 years out of 47.

I am female - I was born that way. I identify more with other females than with males but I am not in lock step with them by any means.

I am a feminist, of sorts - I identified with the movement in 1974 and I have read a fair bit of feminist writing. I believe that of the two sexes, women have tended to have fewer opportunities than men, just because they were women. But I also believe the situation is far more complex than just that and cannot be solved by just one thing, event or change of attitude.

I am an atheist - My parents professed not to believe in a god but I decided to look for myself. It was a considered choice on my part to label myself “atheist” and not just agnostic.

I am caucasian - I was born that way too. My ethnic and cultural heritage is a blend of northern European types but I do not identify with one over another. My grandparents were Anglo Saxon (British, Scottish), French and Dutch.

I am formally educated - I think education in any form is a magic bullet and can solve more problems than any other one thing. The more people know and understand, the more they will realize that humans have more things alike than differences.

I am married - I chose to enter into this ancient cultural and social institution as a means of showing commitment. I thought about not getting married but the benefits outweighed the disadvantages. As it turns out, making that commitment enabled me to work at the relationship a lot harder than I might have if I had not been married. I am therefore proud that we have made the marriage work for 23 years so far.

I do not have children - I thought about whether I wanted to have children and I could never come up with a pressing positive reason to reproduce. Over time, I have asked people why they had children and none of them has ever given me a satisfactory reason. However, some years ago an acquaintance said that having children was part of the broad human experience of life and I thought that was a very good answer. It still did not make me want to have them. I realize that I will now miss out on this aspect of being human but I also realize that you can’t have everything.

This is an interesting exercise. The author of that book talks about how people identify with one characteristic especially if that one is threatened and they will fight and kill to preserve it. His examples tend to be cultural, ethnic and religious. If I lived somewhere where caucasians or Canadians or atheists were suddenly persecuted, would I band together with others of that ilk to fight against the persecution? I can’t imagine that that would ever happen, not with those categories. How can I then relate to or understand people who have been persecuted? It’s something to work on.


Anonymous Norah said...

Every human being should go through this exercise. She/he might just learn something about her/himself.

This was a very thought-provoking piece and clear as a bell to understand. I didn't have to re-read one line of it, which I very often have to when reading stuff other than yours.

4:24 p.m., August 23, 2005  
Blogger Sara said...

Re: "However, some years ago an acquaintance said that having children was part of the broad human experience of life and I thought that was a very good answer. It still did not make me want to have them."

Of note, not having children is also a part of the broad human experience of life. It's certainly a different ride, eh?

11:49 a.m., September 22, 2007  
Blogger JuliaR said...

Good point Sara!

5:22 p.m., October 23, 2007  

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