Memorial Day Weekend, 2016
To know who I am is a species of knowing where I stand. My identity is defined by commitments and identifications which provide the frame …within which I … determine from case to case what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse or oppose. In other words, it is the horizon within which I am capable of taking a stand. (Emphasis added.)
Charles Taylor, in Sources of Self: The Making of Modern Identity
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Self-identity comes from the experiences of life that we encounter (and either accept and work with, if healthy – or deny, if unhealthy), from our family and location, our own introspection, our language, race (for some), our culture and its central stories and the iconic roles it elevates and the performance of people in those roles (think: ruler, priest, storyteller, and the like), the skills with which we are endowed, the trades we pursue, our ethnic group, nation, and very importantly our religious narrative.
As to the latter, the Judeo-Christian narrative uniquely presents a God in whom we can have and experience a personal relationship. This is quite particular to the human’s identity in the West.
When those things that provide identity are subtracted from experience – one is less identifiable to himself or herself or to others. Yes, confusion ensues. Psychic, personal, interpersonal, social and emotional disorders multiply.
The modern age has stripped some self-identifiers away from us. Religion is attacked vigorously, roles of men and women have been altered radically (with men being recast as the source of what is wrong in life), work has evaporated and gone to foreign workers here and aboard.
Mass culture has dismissed some localities as unsavory, beneath “the acceptable confines” of the judgmental class (think the South, and Western ranchers, the coal regions and their workers and ways of being, etc.)
Thanks very much to the secular Left we live in a grossly unstable time were identity is lost and a goodly part of our historic heritage – our national story – is not merely neglected but rather actively rejected.
Think for example about the so-called “women’s movement” and abortion. We have instituted, in abortion, a practice common to our ancient history: human sacrifice. Yes, women killing their own children. An astonishing alteration of identity.
Think too about Presidents, the iconic national “father figure.” In Mr. Obama we have a man of a disordered childhood and family history. One seemingly without a faith … and noticeably without close friends – most often seen alone. One without a defined identity – prone to lecturing us as if he knows who he is and deems himself the wiser.
Can one without an established and coherent identity lead? No.
When you do not know who you are, you cannot know (as Mr. Taylor says) what is good, valuable and ought to be done. Without identity you are lost and any “direction” you offer is apt to be worthless to those who do not wish to be lost as well.
Finally, take “borders” and the Little Sisters of the Poor. What could be more destabilizing than a loss of national identity and a loss of religious identity at the same moment in time? The Left has pursued a course of deconstructing the human person – and done so at great, wasteful and unnecessary costs.
Is there any doubt why Mr. Trump, who asserts the existence of our personal and national identity, is finding support?
One side, the Left, destroys our identity as people, men and women, as family, as gender, as believers and as properly proud Americans and its political alternative endorses our identity.
Seems to me the choice is pretty clear: identity and stability, or loss of identity and extraordinary instability.
Remember He and others we know died for the identity we possess.
If the above is helpful, please share it with others. God bless.