OPINION: Our truest identity
Ralph K. Ginorio
| July 5, 2022 1:00 AM
Who are we each, really? This basic question of identity has beguiled us as individual human beings since the beginning.
Ancient Babylonians understood that humans were made to serve Marduk and their other gods, but we were too loud and stubborn to be good at it. In Ancient Egypt and Imperial japan, people existed as the property of living god-kings whose best destiny was to selflessly protect and serve.
Monarchists and aristocrats saw noble blood as being indispensable; elevating the high born to rule over the servile hoi polloi. Ancient Hebrews were usually born, and rarely converted, into becoming members of God’s Chosen People.
Jews, Christians, and Moslems know that we are the children of God’s creation, tainted by original sin and prone to deny God when times are so bountiful that we can imagine that we ourselves are divine. Hindus see us as eternal souls travelling across multiple physical lifetimes towards deeper understandings; putting on and taking off bodies as we do clothes.
Marx knew us each to be inescapably defined by our socio-economic class. Nationalists assert that our nature is determined fundamentally by tribe and language, soil and blood.
Feminists and other sexists view each human person’s potential as being limited by their membership of one of two distinct competitive subspecies, male or female. Racists are convinced that differing melanin counts, hair textures, and eye shapes make for a set of distinct human species; all locked in a Darwinian struggle to defeat all others in order to propagate their own kind into the future.
All of these traditional and modern ways of looking at the human condition use inherited birth characteristics to determine identity. To every one of them, we each are placed into a very specific circumstance in order to play a predetermined role; our birth is our destiny.
Seeing humanity as if we were canines, where the differences between a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are inescapable, has always been profitable. If people can be pigeonholed into predictable pathways in life, they can be more easily ruled and exploited.
Only those who transcend the circumstances of their “origin story”, who break their social programming, become genuine free agents. By developing defenses against the Siren-Song of ubiquitous cultural expectations, rare individuals acquire the ability to manipulate others.
Such a system has no alternative to hierarchy. Every person must either rule or be ruled; usually a bit of both. Power is both the result and the antidote to inherited identity.
This is why our Independence Day is worth celebrating. In these United States of America, we have successfully replaced power with freedom!
In our American Republics, we adhere to the Greek notion that creativity can inspire any person, highborn or low. We live the Roman ideal that a prudent, virtuous, and brave people can successfully govern ourselves. We insist on the Germanic determination to live unfettered and free private lives, with minimal interference from others.
And, we ever try to be loyal to the Judeo-Christian insistence that every single human beings has a spark of God animating them. Every person is of inestimably priceless value. None of us is a mere human resource!
As the current gender debate illustrates, there are some matters that sanity would argue are beyond personal choice. Yet, we Americans are blessed to have been born in a society where within the widest possible scope informed personal choice determines one’s true identity.
Here, we are free to try to fulfil our greatest dreams. We may not succeed, but no one can stop us from igniting hope into action, again, and again, and yet again.
No, the United States was not always this way. What makes our history glorious is that we have steadily and consistently sloughed off the fetters of the variant medievalism of destiny-by-birth.
We had slaves, to be sure, but we fought our bloodiest war to free them. By contemporary standards, we were once unselfconsciously racist and sexist, homophobic and intolerant. But we Americans have willingly opened up every old wound in a desperate effort to root out any inherent injustices that remain within our society in the hope of making things right.
God-willing, we will continue to try to make a more perfect Union. Here in the USA, our choices are our truest identity.
In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western civilization to high school students for nearly a quarter century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in special education, public schools, and charter schools, grades 6-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org