Identity

November 11, 2018

Identity matters, it speaks to who we are, where we are from and who we aspire to become. As human beings, we are thankfully able to construct quite complicated layers to our identities.

 

We are both able to hold an individual identity, with personal thoughts on ideas, society, religion and any number of varied topics that infect popular culture. While also being able to value and take both comfort and pride in a collective identity as well. Be that a specific football club, a region, a city and also a nation-state. This ability to both simultaneously identify as an individual, while also being able to identify as part of a larger collective is something unique to mankind, and it is the main reason for our continued progress as a society and, in particular, for the continued growth within the disciplines of the Arts and Innovation.

 

Sadly, there seems to be a desire to dilute everybody into the most disinteresting aspects of their identities. Their race, gender or sexuality. This is so incredibly boring. More importantly, it is intellectually lazy and demonstrates a genuine lack of knowledge about the wonderful complexities of the people of the World, and most dangerously, it is deeply divisive.

 

I live in Asia, it is a fantastic region that is home to such a variety of belief systems, foods, music, clothes, architecture, weather, religions, traditions, laws, and systems of government. In this respect, it is no different any other continent. If you choose to simply view the people of this region as Asian, and assume this to be their foremost identity, you do an enormous disservice to the people that live here, while also demonstrating your intellectual limitations along with a peculiar brand of progressive racism. It is exactly the same for those who wish to prescribe to a world view which is taken solely from one's gender or for those who wish to make the gender of their sexual partner their defining identity. Thankfully, individuals are a great deal more interesting and varied than the headline identifier that you choose to define them by. 

 

While I fully appreciate that there was a time when these significant aspects of one's identity was used as a reason to oppress and disadvantage; in societies where there are laws against such discrimination and where public opinion abhors such practices, I believe that it is time to move on from this lazy categorization of people.

 

This is hardly a revolutionary view, as Martin Luther King professed;  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

My children are  Anglo Malay, this is an aspect of their identity I wish them to be proud of and to understand, both from a contemporary and from a historical viewpoint. However, when it comes to the people they are, and who they wish to become; this aspect of their identity, I hope, will not define them nor define how others view them.

 

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