Monday, June 28, 2010

Who Am I? And, Who Are You? Part 1

A discussion on “identity,” culture and conflict.

I came across an interesting essay today, posted on the peace forum I mentioned in my last posting. It prompted a bit of cogitation on my part.

Written by a young student, Zerrin Afra, from Bangladesh who had apparently become fascinated by a topic, “Identity and Conflict in South East Asia,” she had chosen the subject as a term paper theme.

Discovering her posting, an almost totally out of character encounter for me -- before internet fever infected me, I am properly embarrassed. Especially after I swore I would never be corrupted by this evil spirit! Nonetheless, infected as I have become, however, I was swiftly drawn into a cyberspace conversation with my new friend on her particular point of interest.

Below are a few of Zerrin's key thoughts copied (“trimmed” and jazzed up a bit); the ones that struck me most deeply -- “… the term 'identity' reflects our every thing. Like our self, our culture, our kinship or about our education. And, when we can answer the question 'who am I', it means I know, by what I would be happy to be known by others. I want to establish my self in what way, or in how I am comfortable.

What was happening here that I should willingly delve into this conversation, especially on the internet? the therapist, observer-mind in me wondered.

Without doubt, once again, unexpected comments had conscripted the unsettled feelings and related perspectives our local Jewish/Muslim controversy had originally called forth in me. Four years ago!

And, still I do not yet understand fully what lies behind the rather persistent pondering of mine on the subject.

Nonetheless, just when I thought I had settled down from my last round on this issue, my new friend from Bangladesh – someone I may never know more fully in ‘real time’ -- has focused my attention on it again.

This time, however, I believe I know what has been behind my distress all along.

The issue of my personal “identity” and how it aligns with the surrounding culture. Particularly the Jewish culture of my heritage and the American culture into which I was born.

Now, however, thanks to my far away, internet friend from Bangladesh, I am looking, again, at this issue, the Middle East crisis in my backyard, as I see it.

This time with renewed clarity, pursuing an opportunity to learn and sort out who I am in the world -- without the thousand masks I’ve worn!

More to come as my new friend and I – while worlds apart – discuss "identity," culture and conflict.

Anastasia, the storyteller

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