Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Distinctively Alike

We so frequently hear about the importance of finding ones identity that sometimes we forget that our human reality is also to share so many identities and so that even though we should feel identified we also need to fight against being miniaturized and put into little boxes as is preached for better than none by Amartya Sen the Nobel Price in Economics who also a professor in philosophy, might also line up for a Nobel Peace Price.

Sen, in his most recent book Identity and Violence attacks vehemently those who seed divisions fomenting bad identities, quite frequently with bad intentions. From his own memories as a child in the India of the 40’s Sen remembers “the speed with which the broad human beings of January were suddenly transformed into the ruthless Hindus and fierce Muslims of July . . . hundreds of thousands perished at the hands of people who, led by the commanders of carnage, killed others on behalf of their ‘own people’”. Sen concludes that “Violence is fomented by the imposition of singular and belligerent identities on gullible people, championed by proficient artisans of terror”.

Unfortunately, Sen does not face difficulties finding more recent examples and Rwanda, Yugoslavia and even the prisons of Abu Graib are all places where terror find its origin in a “you know, they are so different from us”. Of course from Sen’s book to our Venezuelan reality of "pro chavistas and not chavistas”, those divisive and senseless identities that we did not even dream of less than a decade ago, there is too little distance for us not to feel deeply anguished.

Friends, let us at all times discredit those who try to instigate us buying into an identity that only looks to divide and let us instead search for with run-amok-humanity all those identities that unites us, like Venezuelan, fathers, mothers, children and our taste for arepas.

Friends, let us not allow anyone to divide us, in us and them, because as humans, in each one of us there is so much of them, and in each one of them there is so very much of us, and so that, at the moment of truth, we are all in fact distinctively alike. If this sound like a sure recipe for a collective multiple personality disorder, so be it, the mental health of our Venezuela depends on it.

Translated from El Universal, Caracas, June 1, 2006

PS. Social media, which allows polarization and redistribution profiteers to send out their hate and envy messages at zero marginal cost, has become social harmony’s worst enemy.

Other posts in which I started to fight odious polarization profiteers
Communications in a polarized world