Identities

So far, on this journey called life, I have been lucky enough to encounter some exceptional women, and exceptionally stupid to let them run away because of my unpreparedness to let them the room they deserved.

The last decided to break up following a stupid argument, as it always is, where I let some verbal aggressiveness take the whole room in our relationship.

I am far from being an aggressive human being but now I know I can be one, even with those I deeply love most.

We used to have a lot of thoughtful discussions, while not arguing, and I particularly remember well one regarding someone she knew from her teens, a good friend of hers. This man, this human being, as she put it, was experiencing the consequences of the circle of the abandonment he suffered when still a kid; He never met his parents, who left him in the care of an orphanage, and, at present, trying his best to father his little princess, striving to break that circle of abandonment and not replicate the sufferance he felt.

While we were eating on a restaurant’s terrace with her mother and grand-mother (our relationship was getting quite serious one would argue), the story of this man came on the table. The point she and her family were trying to let me understand is that we are all fully plunged into a quest for identity, and that those who can rely on an originating known family are somehow a step ahead compared to those who have none or whom cannot track back their origins. They made a point I couldn’t argue against as I have been myself on that same quest for identity. But I had to argue further and I had to take that conversation somewhere I believe dwells a great potential for understanding and empowerment.

So I wanted to take the conversation further, but where? Well, I questioned myself loud and they followed me under a shiny blue sky: Family and roots are essential if one wants to hold a picture of that generating past identity, I could give them that, but, what if one would not look back and rather look around oneself discerning the bonds which really define who we are? Would society be inclusive enough for that friend of her and relieve him and his princess from the sorrow abandonment entails? Friends, neighbors and mates, boyfriends and girlfriends, all brothers and sisters we meet along the road, couldn’t they be part of our unique family which only matters in this present tense?

With another of my ex — who I quit this time — we concluded that families are in some cases a violent environment (not necessarily physically, although most of the times moral violence stands as fertile ground for the former) where identities find themselves trapped or repressed. We drawn this conclusion relying on our very unique family experiences and we agreed: No family is perfect.

Just like Society isn’t.

Confucius wrote about this matter stating that no society will ever be just unless family environment isn’t just itself. That’s quite a conundrum. Where should one begin with to fix such a puzzle?

I have developed my own identity experience while crossing from within the friendly European borders, as an inquisitive traveler rather than a tourist, learning a few languages as I longed to be able to communicate at any given occasion with whoever had the same inquisitive will, meeting people from the entire world, the all very different from myself and with whom I have walked along for the time given to our encounter to unravel our unique belonging to the human community, gaining pieces of the identity puzzle: mine, their, and ultimately our.

On the other side of those friendly western borders, war, destruction and famine are wreaking havoc and way too many broken identities are forced to flee seeking shelter, putting under stake their own lives and those of whom they have regrettably and necessarily, finally purposefully, left behind. These refugees have no choice on whether looking back or ahead. Behind them, all they were used to identify with does not exist anymore or it has been irreparably jeopardized. What’s going to be ahead of those floating boats adrift? On the opposite shore, beyond fear and distress, and for often too many death comes ahead, lie our borders, high and heavily patrolled, our laws of expulsion and detention against their hopes for a new life to recover a wounded broken identity.

Identity, what a burden as broken as it is, heavily relying on a broken past. Maybe I am wrong on the whole line, after all I had my share of identity shaped somewhere in Europe across a peaceful time. I keep reminding myself how lucky I am as I was born on the other side of the border where wealth, family and security never were a real issue so that my perception of the identity puzzle may be heavily biased. But nobody dwells ever fully appeased in this journey, we are all somehow broken somewhere from within.

But that’s my past, similar to million different others, all unique, but undeniably past. Just like my ex girlfriends.

It is common belief society, at any given point in time, carries the idea of its own identity defining bonds, conventions and rules, ultimately raising borders against diversity. I dream of and believe in a society who cares about the identities of each one of us, who is finally able to soften all the distortions one may have experienced during his or her unique journey, a society able to deploy all her strengths and potential rather than letting fear and prejudice weaken the quest for identity enshrined within all human beings.

All these broken stories behind these foreign people gathering at our borders, coming a long way, and those stories broken from within, all represent a chance for social empowerment rather than a threat to or a failure of society: letting them in will invariably bring additional pieces to the whole picture; fostering societal bonds will soften the flaws missing links entail.