defining ones identity in deadly identities by amin maalouf

In the text, Deadly Identities, by Lebanese writer, Amin Maalouf, the writer explains his way of defining one’s identity and writes to all people having deadly identities, not to force others to label their identities, if they have been raised by two violently opposed cultures. Maalouf rejects the fact that a man’s identity is prioritized basically on religion and nationality. He also comments that people with dual-identities are not obliged to choose or separate between their two origins.

The author’s premise in the text is that one’s identity does not have any certain limits or borders, but insists that an individual’s identity consists of all the components that have influenced his or her life. In his text, Maalouf acknowledges the dangers of asking someone to explicitly define his or her identity along religious, ethnic or national terms. What was dangerous to the writer was the common attitude that the majority of the world has when distinguishing their real character.

Most people feel like there is a belonging deep inside of each and every one of us, that “so-called belonging” has been passed on to us and will never change, it has been nourished with us ever since birth and it forces us to choose one identity over another. This outlook is what Maalouf identifies as dangerous. because. I certainly agree with Mr. Maalouf description of this speculative attitude.

In my opinion, questioning a dual-identity of their genuine belonging is malignant, because it induces many dangers to an individual’s personal and social life and impels one to believe that a man’s identity is composed only of his nationality and religion. On various occasions I have questioned myself if there is really an identity I belong to more than the other, which ethnic group has accepted me more? What country do I most fit in? There are times I favor my Arab side more than my American side and sometimes my American side over my Lebanese.

In many occurrences I worry that I am misfit in this world and I do not belong to any cultural group, I sometimes feel I was never fully accepted by either ethnicity, due to my mixture of races. I sensed an inner struggle within me that I would never be accepted as either of my origins, which has caused many personal and social troubles. If people really believe that we all have this sense of belonging then we will base our identity based on our nationality and culture and once we identify ourselves by nationality the dangers will come, especially to those with dual identities.

Socially speaking, I have come across many conflicts when I have been questioned on my true identity? A personal experience I have had is in the United States, when I was in a job interview with the boss of the pretzel shop I intended to work at. The interview was going well until he asked “What do you really consider yourself an Arab or a Mexican/American? ” Here I felt like I was forced to pick between the two, and I replied to him “An Arab! ” I choose my Arab culture because I was raised thinking that one should always consider themselves to be the culture of their paternal side. Why, you like being a terrorist? ” the boss responded. Being the stubborn person I am I reacted by shouting at him and we ended up in an argument. At the end I didn’t get the job because of my reply. Now this is a not a dangerous experience, but it could be if I was questioned in a more dangerous environment other than a job interview. Questioning a dual identity of their true identity could cause them danger, socially, based on their answer. People will judge and react differently based on what you answer. Sometimes people can react very violently and can result in someone getting hurt or even killed.

Maybe you have people seeking revenge over the other culture and are trying to hurt someone from a specific race. Here are some examples where dual identities can be dangerous starting from a national all the way to an international scale. lets start with the case of citizenship. Citizens with dual identities can sometimes be put in hot water because of their mixed backgrounds for example if they are involuntarily part of a shady society their lives can be put to danger and that is why witness protection programs ensure that their identities are kept a secret and are given aliases.

Moving on to a more national level let’s take the religious and political situation that’s going on in Lebanon, where people have lost their sense of nationalism due to sectarianism. Religious clashes are threatening our internal stability and security this may project us as weaklings in front of our enemies globally. Take a look at how ethnic clashes and dual identities were dangerous and led to a change in the course of history during WWII Jewish Germans were burned even though they were German by blood and other Germans who were not Aryans(blond and blue eyes) were sent to prison.

What I realized though, not too long ago in my adventure to defining my identity, is that my inner struggle was that I failed to comprehend that my identity was not compulsorily prioritized by our nationality and religion, but by my beliefs, hobbies, religion, influences and everything that has formed my life. My fear is that I know there are many others that are going through this same situation and that still suppose that they have to forcibly choose a society over the other which causes bigger conflicts.

Once an individual definitely singles out belonging to one community over the other, it ceases any potential progression in fulfilling future misunderstandings. Like Maalouf said about the role people with deadly identities have: “ these people have a special role to play: building bonds, resolving misunderstandings, reasoning with some, moderating others, smoothing and mending conflicts… ”(paragraph 11). Following what the writer said in the above quote, I undoubtedly believe that we, deadly identities, have exceedingly worthy responsibilities to resolve or to smoothen out the continuous clash between ethnical and religious oppositions.

If we decide though to favor one culture over another then like MR. Maalouf said “We have the right to be worried about the basic way the world functions. ” (Paragraph 11). The only people who desire and win from your choice of embracing one society over the other are “fanatics and xenophobes”(Maalouf paragraph 12). “This is how you manufacture slaughters”( Paragraph 13). This is why I indeed, agree with Mr. Amin Maalouf that it is very hazardous to ask someone to determine his real identity.

Conclusively, identity can result in more things just danger. It can produce acceptance, respect or fear. Depending on how we utilize it. It is not fair to judge one based on his or her color, ethnicity and religion. Unfortunately, labeling has become a common trend that we perform subconsciously. Sadly, it is becoming accepted amongst the world and there is no cumulative way to stop it. All we can do is embrace, the diversity that our identity contains. After all we have all become victims in the Age of Labeling!

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