How shall I describe myself? Well, I’m not…

I’ve heard people in Canada describe their sense of identity as “I’m not American.”  (…I haven’t heard that for a few years, which is probably a good thing.)

When asking about religious affiliation or faith, I’ve also heard people say, “I’m not into organized religion,” or “I’m spiritual, but not religious.”

When it comes to political stripes, we tend to polarize ourselves, don’t we?  If you’re not conservative, you’re liberal.  If you’re not capitalist, you’re socialist.  If you’re not Democrat, you’re Republican.  If you’re not left, you’re right.

All of this can make it hard for us to come together.  Whether it’s politics, or religion, or sports fans (!) – how can we gather?

My hunch is that it has to do with how we deal with perceived vulnerability versus apparent strength.  If we fit with the majority, things are fine and we can hold strong positions: “Obama’s dismantling private health care which will hurt the hard-working Americans who have built up their private plans,” or “Catholic priests spread lies and abuse children.”  Whereas, if we happen to be a part of a minority group, there is often more openness to diversity: “my group doesn’t get as many opportunities, so we’re willing to help others who also have limited opportunities.”

What I’m getting at is, how do we join in a collective sense of identity?  How can we feel some level of pride in our individual backgrounds and the things that make us unique, while – at the same time – finding unity so we can journey forward together?  …whether it’s a journey of faith, or a national movement, or a way of understanding political ideology.

I’d like to know what people would be open to, in terms of faith journey, so that I could meet with them.  Some say they are spiritual but not religious – and, while I represent religion, I don’t often do what might be called ‘stereotypically religious’ things.  Some say that they are not in to religion – all in all, neither am I.  I do, however, see a lot of good in traditions of the past and am interested to talk with people who are seeking to engage those traditions (eg. baptism, marriage, funerals, and such).

How do you describe yourself?  While you may not be certain things, what are you?

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Posted on August 24, 2010, in Tyler's occasional web log. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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