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Identity and Individual Integrity

How often do we ask ourselves, about who we are? How often do we ask ourselves about why we exist? How did we organize ourselves into a structured civilization with the ability to communicate in a structured form? When you and I were born, we weren’t fully prepared for what’s at stake. How did we create a nomenclature which is very simple and organized to understand? These questions have been on my mind for quite sometime… But the idea of identity is a concept which I have been struggling with since I was a school going child. Considering that, I grew up in a multi ethnic society where people of different dialects and beliefs coexist. As a human being, I often find the necessity to build community and a deep sense of meaning in the connections I make with other humans around me. As a highly evolved primate, I often think of myself as a miracle when it comes to living on earth. Growing up with the internet and in the attention economy, my consumption of information in the form of music and art (through audio and video technology of course)became a basis of friendship with the other kids of my age group and the relationship with the city I was raised in. At a socio-psychological level, a part of me wants to connect deeply with other people. But at what cost? At the cost of my individual integrity? I often feel, the people who streamline their attention and safeguard their emotions to secure and fulfill their purpose are the ones who are successful socially and materially . In the 21st century information age, the idea of communities is built at the heart of the consumer capitalist culture . A classic example would be, fan groups of people who like a particular band’s music, or a group which constantly makes posters of their favorite movie actor in remote villages in Southern India, promoting the actor’s brand name for free, but the factual reality of this relation between these fans/viewers and their so called idols is purely transactional, considering that fans are nothing but customers/consumers of the content which the actor plays a part in creation. The whole industry of film and music relies on the attention of people. And most of these people are not really the kind who think much of themselves. What I am stating here is not something new .There probably are critics of this culture and of this industry that monetizes on the unproductive spending of attention by people on something that is not truly and necessarily resourceful as such. Today, relationships are formed based on what kind of content we consume visually/audibly. And the content we consume, subtly affects the decisions we make by influencing our subconscious functioning. This content consumption somewhat determines our attitudes, beliefs, expectations and even physical expressions of our thought and feelings ,eventually creating a definition of us and ourselves. This is the core principle and function of most big data companies which capitalize on the way a user interacts with their systems, and extract information provided by the user to get a better understanding of his/her impulses , motivations, wants and needs. The content we consume can give an insight into what kind of people we are, and what kind of personalities we eventually become. Which is somewhat terrifying. Consumption is driving the concept of self assertion and identification. Consuming information by paying attention is something we cannot stop, as we are constantly being stimulated via all our senses by the external environment and it’s objects, which are both living and non living. And these stimuli often shape our bodies and our minds, which define us for who we are and at a physical level what we do.

Territorial diversity leads to a diversity of resources which plays an important role in how we identify ourselves by the choices we make while utilizing these resources and while we navigate and reproduce in our environment. Like Dogs, we too are territorial and insecure about our position in the food chain and the hierarchy of access to resources. But Humans, for the intelligent and communicative species we are, have found a way to communicate better and structure this core function for consistent coexistence .

Identity is probably an unnecessary excuse for creating conflicts within populations of nations and between nations. And the idea of nations is at the heart of the very existence of identities. People’s identities are defined on various parameters. To name a few, they can be linguistics, occupation, economic status, social status, tradition beliefs , cuisines and customs. Are all identities pre-existent? The answer to that is, yes. All man made identities , ideas ,beliefs and more importantly lines of thought are pre-existent, considering that we are related to a single species and we are not in control of our birth, and who gives us birth and as a consequence ,which strata of society we are born to. Our perceptions too can be the same, considering that we all have the same evolutionary design . There is no creator of these. If there was a creator, then, who created the creator? The paradoxical yet finite nature of human existence astonishes me. I have understood that, God is nothing but a symbol of the inherent creativity and intelligence of the human being. We humans are capable of conceiving stories and picturizing or visualizing them in the form of content, or we are able to make use of material and work together to make structures and systems that are larger than us at a physical level. So yes, it is possible that the universe and everything in it was created by a being or beings which we cannot see or comprehend in our humane three dimensional frame.

Coming to the point, my whole idea of discussing God with relation to this subject about individuality and identity is because, an individual at some point in his/her lifetime would have hoped for the existence and workings of a mysterious entity that controls the cause and effect of everything he or she is experiencing. Each individual who rejects the existence of God, is vulnerable to emotional and psychological gloom and doom. We can see , yet we are thoughtfully blinded by the self . And these blind presumptions and conclusions are the root cause for the suffering we endure in many instances in life. When we were born, we did not chose it. Nature, and it’s mysterious powers probably influenced our very existence. I see a lot of people talking about the existence of simulations in the reality we live in and breathe in. And we have to realize that, this is not something new… if there are pre-existing thought processes and structures in the world we live in, then there has to be a pre-existing cause beyond our control, that brings us to life, and that takes us away from it at the same time.We did not chose our names or our identities, neither did we chose our caste or social strata. Yet, they exist in the minds of the pre existing beings around us. Is this not enough proof, of workings of something beyond our control and finite understanding? Have you ever wondered? A person born, will die some day, but a person dead, will he be reborn ? That’s when the idea of spirits and consciousness come into play(they are pre existent, because we came across these words through hearing someone speak or through reading something that is written). And turns out, there are pre-existing ideas and theories regarding this in the field of psychology and psychiatry. Anything the human mind is capable of visualizing or imagining, is achievable and can be enforced in the objective reality of our physical functioning, with consistent effort and eternal belief combined with curiosity and an open mind.

We often equate success with the idea of being accepted by the masses. We often find our success in the collective success of the group we are a part of. To tell the truth, our very existence is built up on socialized selection of mates. Which leads to reproduction and further multiplication of our number. Individual integrity is crucial for achieving the tag of success or victory. People with integrity can be individuals of high status and can successfully gather resources for themselves and their offspring. Every individual who has tried to pursue something which contributes to the progress of other individuals is leading humanity to an efficient state. And considering that we are all raised and nurtured by the economic system, we have an obligation to make ourselves capable ,competent and skilled in order to contribute to it’s growth. Individual integrity is essential for the survival of our economic system, the more integrated we are mentally and culturally the more integrity we can achieve as a society. Even if we have diverse opinions and views, tastes and dialects, scripts and skills , beliefs and brains etc., we are all connected and we all function as a society built up on faith and trust in the idea of “the nation” and “the world”. The individual and the identity be it a collectivist version or individualist version, can only exist, if there is some form of integrity within the minds and hearts of individuals. Who we are is defined by what we believe in and how we practice these beliefs through customs and traditions. But before we realize who we are, let us first realize what we are. And what we are is something we still do not fully accept, because we fear the “what”, and to escape this fear, we invented the “who”.

Just here to gain perspective and experience life in every possible way.