of finding identity. The questions that were and are asked are:
1. How do I go about understanding the meaning of
identification. What kinds of things can you identify with? Groups, objects, things, humans, cultures, nations, religion, feelings, values, beliefs, and service.
2. Why is identification important? From both a biological
and spiritual standpoint. Is having an informed identity critical to the process of human development? How much of our spiritual values do we derive from our cultural and national identities?
3. In what ways can identification be a hinderance, a block,
to the growth of an individual working in a cooperative-based society?
4. How do we affirm our identity,
and stay capable of looking others of different identity in a equal, neutral and fair manner?
For me this process starts with the fact that I’m a colored
man, primarily having grown-up in a non-colored ( white ) society.
In grade school and college,
most of my teachers, mentors and counselors were white American women and men.
All my teachers treated me fairly and with respect,
and many even went out of their way to recognize potential they saw in me, and encouraged me to hope and dream big.
I’m blessed to have received
a wonderful grade-school and college education.
Spiritually and culturally,
I primarily received my mentorship and social community from South Asian women and men, and South Asian children.
Therefore I derive my spiritual values
and the lens and window though which I look out on the world, almost entirely from the East and Eastern values.
These two sets of values, the ones I inherited from
my white American teachers, and the ones I inherited from my Eastern social communities, never were in conflict and never collided on any important points of morality or justice.
I was hearing the same moral message,
ones that are based on the principles of peace, truth, fairness, friendship and equality.
I never had to grip with a problem of
identity in my early and growing years of maturation — I could easily accept myself as a “South Asian American”, or simply put, an “American”.
Of course, I was lucky. I grew up rich, lived rich,
and ate rich, and while I wasn’t white, neither was I Black, so I was able to doge many of the social stigmas and much of that hate that is associated with race relations in America.
In many ways, race in America
is seen as a conflict between Black and white.
Brown people, it seems, get
somewhat of a pass. Jesus was brown; Gandhi was brown, so brown people must be good — so it is said.
So, then what? Why is it that I
care and spend so much of my time caring about and focusing on identity, race? It seems that my issue is solved, right?
For me the journey of identity took a different form,
course, and route as I threw myself into the world in college and post-college work.
It became less a journey revolving around lofty nationalist
ideals ( i.e. the “American” way, “God is our father, and only He, is our father” , “evolution is the new bible, and lets do away with all the moral ‘fluff’, lets just stick with the physical." )
And more revolved on extending my identity to
a citizenship of humanity. In this “world”, who am I? On this “planet”, what is my purpose?
And I found that the answers; the realities;
the truths of despair; were complex, and sometimes ugly, in nature.
The world was full of hope,
but it seemed to be that much of the hope was locked away, in small boxes, with unfounded keys, in a midst and sea of violence, hunger, and despair.
Who had, who has, these keys?
I asked myself.
Will I able to rationalize the belief that I will need to
take the reigns of power to accomplish the goals of love? I thought to myself.
Will love lead me to the spiritual state of bliss?
I still wonder.
But these days I now wonder with courage, with conviction; with audacity.
Be brave, my friends, and step with me into the unknown.