Last week I had the chance to attend the “European and national identity”conferences hosted by the Ķekavas Jaunatnes iniciatīvu centrs in the town under the same name.
I must say that it was a really interesting and well organized event, with very different speakers, from different ages, backgrounds, and working fields, but with a common feature among all of them, passion and commitment towards what they do.
But apart from being a nice and interesting venue, after leaving I brought with me many questions around the notion of identity, and I think this is the most valuable part of anything we attend to, when it goes on beyond its time and space limits and makes us question ourselves. So here I am, sharing thoughts ad ideas that are revolving in my mind, wondering if you have also thought about these things lately or at some point of your life.
Identity as an opposition
So the first and strongest idea I found in these event has been the fact that sometimes it is way easier to define our own identity by stating what we are not. And at first it sounds strange, is true, but the more you think about it, you realize that societies over the years have found more common ground in shared disagreements and oppositions, for bad, but also and more and more I think, for good.
So, somehow, we might not really know who we are, but we know who we are not.
Words, terms and labels
Is identity a self defined feature or is it defined by others?
Of course this is a complex idea and question; if we talk about the external definition it is very likely that we will end up facing stereotypes and even judgments, I certainly don’t think that is or should be part of the identity equation. But also from the external side, it is true that the closer one looks to another person, the more rich, diverse and complex her or his life appears. There’s no simple people, simple stories, or easier lives; we all have struggled and we all have something valuable to tell and share from our own experience.
In terms of self definition, another really great idea I heard at the conferences was “if there is not a word to define you, create one”; and yes, I think this relates to the importance of celebrating diversity, understanding complexity and also telling the world about us, our points of view, taking part into the bigger discussion, being part of the so wanted change.
The ideal existence of real dialogue
Another wise quote I heard in the event was “In order to really listen, set yourself aside”
Every day it is harder to establish a collective dialogue towards something we don’t feel offended, threatened, misunderstood or completely pissed off at. Information it is much more accessible now somehow, but it also creates a “know it all state of mind” that in my opinion generates more intolerance, more labeling, less real dialogue.
Even if we certainly know who we are not and somehow know who we are, there is still many valuable, rich and amazing other perspectives that we can learn from. I believe identity is evolving and so we are, so we can not reach a final point of our identity and enclose ourselves to any other opinion. Come the fuck on.
Final rummaging. What is around the corner for our identity?
So continuing with the thought that identity is transitory and evolving, self awareness becomes a necessity for all of us into the distinction of ourselves and others. Not in terms of superiority, inferiority or any sort of comparison, but to have a better notion of interdependence and responsibility in a social world. As Brigita Stroda said, we need to talk to ourselves, whatever it is, we need to have a real conversation with ourselves at least once.
One of the speakers in the conference said that we could think about 3 features that we would like to have in 3 years. This notion empowers, because not only we can be much more self conscious but also, direct the evolving process through the features and habits we want to develop in ourselves.
In the end, it is all connected somehow, it is impressive; who are we?, Who am I? Are probably the most asked questions in the human history, and still here we are, but as Eduardo Galeano points it “we are what we do to change what we are”.
I stay with that final thought, stressing the idea that there’s improvement ahead if we are willing to commit and be passionate towards it.
Tu esi tas, ko tu dari,