Where Do You Come From And Why Does It Matter?
Today is Cinco de Mayo and… wait, are you even Mexican?
We decided to turn something we have always done into a “problem”. Once it was considered a problem, of course we had to name it something. It is called: cultural appropriation.
But what is culture? Do you have one? Do you like it? Does you culture tell you anything about your origin, or who you are as a person?
If you admire something about somebody else’s culture, why would be it disrespectful to follow it? Wouldn’t that actually empower the other person’s culture?
And why does culture even matter in the first place?
Our culture is usually very tied to our sense of identity. And I think it’s safe to say that the way we see ourselves plays a part on how we make our decisions. Have you ever asked how well you know yourself?
Where do we come from?
What’s our story?
What’s your story?
What’s my story?
Who am I?
And is it realistic to expect anything from yourself if you don’t really know who you are?
The Search For Identity
No one’s true identity should be that fragile, and our roots play a huge role in defining who we think we are. And I don’t know why but not many people care to investigate their heritage far back enough to understand their origin.
Plus, the more you go back in your ancestry, the more you will find you have the whole world running through your veins. And that’s not very hard to find out nowadays with services like Ancestry.com and those genetic testing services.
Once I found out that I had some pretty diverse ancestors, of course I wanted to learn more about their culture. But learning about different cultures is not something we should do to understand how “foreign” other customs can be. The argument that we it’s easier to “accept our differences” and not offend others by understanding different cultures makes no sense to me. In fact:
The more I understand different cultures, the more I realize how equal we all are.
That applies to other things, too. Anyone who has studied different religions will find they share similar principles (the importance of connecting with something “greater” than ourselves, for example).
And the more you study ancient, polytheistic civilizations, the more fascinating they become! It’s almost as if there’s a god to represent every powerful idea there is in the human mind.
Of course, every mythology is “unique”. But they refer to the same beliefs and fears that we have all faced in the human experience. Like archetypes, myths are universally relatable.
People are not that different, no matter how much we try to use history as an argument to prove otherwise.
There was a guy who used to say the world was but a stage. And I think he was right. No matter how many times we change our names, our traditions, the clothes we wear, or the scenarios we find ourselves in, human dynamics are just stories describing the many different ways we can experience love and fear.
Maybe the reason why we hold on to an identity is because we want to be different. We want to be special. And we don’t realize how lonely and isolating that actually is.
I am perfectly fine with dropping every single label that could possibly define me in exchange for the freedom of stating that I just am. Realistically, being is the most relatable characteristic we all have.
In “worldly” terms, I could describe myself as a Brazilian young adult lower-mid class light brown gay male with African American, Indigenous, European (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Basque) heritage.
Is it realistic to say that defines me? That I’m just that?
Do any of these things truly define and represent who I am? And does human culture, especially during this time in history, truly represent who you are?
Can We Just Bank A More Realistic Culture?
I am an advocate for a new culture. One that is more realistic, that has a greater focus on the one thing we undoubtedly share in common: the fact that we exist right here, right now, regardless of our beliefs.
If that basis is covered and fully acknowledged by every human today, can you imagine what the consequences would be?
It’s hard to remember that’s the “point of connection” between you and everyone else who’s alive right now, though. But there’s one simple exercise that works really well. The more you practice, the more you will be able to see we are not so different after all. Just give it a try:
Start paying more attention to your existence.
In order for you to go to work, read this article, drink some water, think about what you are going to eat for dinner, or remember you have an appointment with your doctor coming up soon, you need to exist.
Existence is a pre-requisite to be where you are. And if you are here, there is life in you right now. You exist. You are alive.
And your life is not exclusive. It is inclusive. The next time you see someone, pay attention to the life that is hiding behind their eyes. Instead of trying to understand who the person is, try to focus on the existence that is lurking in them. Focus on who they really are, and not what your impressions of that person is.
You will find that you and that person have more in common than you think.
We all do.
And that’s it. Happy Cinco de Mayo, muchachos.