Our world today is all about self-identifying. And we fight tirelessly for that identity.
Thus, the new(er) term called “identity politics”. Communities fight for their approach to life, affirming those who agree and excoriating those who don’t. Individuals may fight to do whatever they want, feeling offended if someone disagrees with them. In the extreme, individuals isolate themselves, preferring to affirm their own identity by accepting themselves as “god”, knowing that whatever they do is the most important thing in the world.
We are left with a great amount of polarizing when we self-identify. This can be an individualistic identifying -” I am who I am. Don’t try to make me something else. Your rules are irrelevant.” This can also be a collective identifying – “We are who we are. Don’t try to make us something else. Others rules are irrelevant.”
What brings about this identity crisis?
Dare I say that a desire to be recognized, respected, and accepted fuels this trend. I remember the song of the sixties that talked about giving me a number and taking away my name. We wanted to be something, to amount to something, to make a difference. Cynically speaking, we also wanted to be left alone, to do our own thing without shame, and to be comfortable.
Again, daring myself to say this, a true identity finds solace in the faith that they are right. There is also a solace in finding a group who supports a common good that your faith agrees with. The culture (in the social science sense) is shaped by the individual – who is respected and listened to. At the same time the culture shapes an individual, as the interchange of ideas and action explore the common good.
All that to say, the common good is achieved only by finding the source of good. If you cannot say you have found that source, your identity is lacking that good. If you cannot say you have found a true faith, you are lacking a faith worth living for.