I’ve been thinking quite a lot about just who I identify myself with. Do I identify myself with white middle class families in my neighborhood? Do I identify myself as an American? Do I identify myself as a college student, as a writer? And more importantly, who should I be identifying myself with?
Well, in some ways I think I identify with all of the aforementioned groups. They are, in essence, what defines me. If someone asked, who are you? or what do you do? I’m sure, depending on the situation, I would respond with at least one of those categories. But I’m not so sure that approach is a good one. Again, should I identify myself with those groups? Am I more than that, and is it detrimental for me to put myself in a box, labeled “writer,” “middle class,” “American”? I’ve been contemplating this question, and I am looking for some help from you, questioners.
My thoughts are that I should be identifying with something greater. I do, sometimes, think something is lost when we confine ourselves to what we do, where we are from, or what we like. I think, rather, we should identify ourselves as a sort of citizen of the world. I think this mental leap can make quite the difference. If we simply identify ourselves as Americans, it is easy to not care about what is across these arbitrary lines, what is across the sea. We just think, we have plenty of problems here to worry about. And that goes for any nation, any boundary, and sort of identification. I think this sort of mental shortcut is very detrimental. If we identify only with our country, or only with white middle class citizens, it is so easy to push to the back all of the other problems because we are only accountable for our groups.
There are obvious flaws to this, though. It makes sense for one to identify with the group that s/he is apart of and thus advocate for that group. I mean, if we advocate for our country we are benefiting in a very direct way, whereas we are advocating for a foreign country, we don’t see the outcome of our assistance. Moreover, it also makes sense to want to benefit those closest to you–those are the ones you see being harmed, not the small children in the third world countries.
So the question is, what should we identify ourselves with. Does it even matter?