Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Women THE QUANDARY AND IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

THE QUANDARY AND IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

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Who am I? What am I? Why am I as I am? What can I change, and what aspects of myself have I already changed? And why does any of this matter (to me or anyone else)? Well, if Socrates was right when he said “The unexamined life is not worth living” (and I believe he was), understanding, accepting and sometimes changing one’s identity (not personality, they’re not the same things) are the underpinnings of an examined life. I have spent and still spend considerable time examining my identity – not out of narcissism, but in order to be a better, bigger, healthier, happier person, and to increase my ability to be of service to others and contribute to creating a better, healthier, happier, more peaceful world.

Identity is a complex issue for everyone, whether how one sees one’s own identity, as well as who/what one identifies with. This can have the positive effect of forming a sense of belonging/community with a specific demographic or common cause, as well as the negative effect of pitting varying “tribes” against each other through ignorance, stereotyping, conflict and lack of empathy for those outside one’s own “clan.” This is an ancient and familiar combination of human need and behavior since time immemorial, as world history repeatedly demonstrates through tribalism/nationalism, and wars/violent conflict rooted in race, religion, nationality gender, etc.

Personally, my identity as a woman was shaped by the women in my family and social circles. But my sense of value and purpose as a woman was enhanced by my involvement in the women’s movement and greatly impacted my female identity. As young feminists in the 1960s and 1970s, my sisters and I were focused on the discrimination, objectification, and limitations placed on women in the U.S. Today, as a more mature person and older feminist, those same issues still concern me. But I have been for some time more keenly aware of and care deeply about the status and treatment of women worldwide. I also have more compassion for men who feel threatened, emasculated and confused by the empowerment of women.

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One Comment

  1. Ronald Bell

    March 12, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you for your good thoughts!

    I suspect that there is “something” within (similar perhaps to the several “selves” we each are said to have/be) that pushes and pulls us toward differing people, places and things at differing times or stages of becoming in our life journeys. I recall someone once saying something like: “You won’t discover Paris unless you take it with you.”

    At essence and core, I think each of us is vast with actual and potential permeable borders.

    You are a citizen of the world.

    A “citizen of the world” is not someone solely well-traveled; it is someone well-visioned, who has trekked from “me” to “we”, from ethnocentricity to world-centricity, who sees self as member of a family beyond borders and boundaries of race, religion, class, gender, and geography. A world citizen carries a passport stamped with individual and universal fingerprints of inclusive love, mutual regard, belonging and active caring for our commons and “all our relations” (“Matakuye Oyasin”). The citizen of the world passport is carried in one’s heart, soul and spirit – it transforms barriers into bridges.

    Love, peace and justice,
    Ron Bell

    Reply

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