Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of … Being (Letter on Humanism – Heidegger. Global Religious Vision, Vol. I/I, July 2000).
The poem “We Are”taken from my book Splendor from Ashes,was written from the perspective of a parent operating within the context of the valorization of certain supposedly positive identity markers. Perhaps for ease of existence or in an effort to clarify the world for themselves, there was the parallel occurrence of inferiorizing and stereotyping of possessors of “negative identity markers”. Consequently, neat oversimplified classifications into ingroups and outgroups characterized the social order. Should one accept these negative identity ascriptions, then intergroup relationships would flow “smoothly” and naturally in a taken-for-granted way.
Who benefits from the maintenance of such simplistic and self-serving divides? Whose future and quality of life is under threat or is liable to be compromised by unquestioned acceptance of these ascriptions. As a people who are given to mindful living, we need to probe beneath the surface realities of imputed identities for the existence of negative ascriptions that may subtly lock us and our children into discrimination and stigmatization.
Naturally the in-group guards itself against out-group incursions into its ranks by covert sociological reasonings. One outcome is the release of an ‘us and them’ frequency in which identities of subservience are the ripple effects. As a mindful people we must assess cultural meanings that come with imputed identities, make selections and refusals, and be prepared to war for our selected identities if need be. Why should we be content to live with the out-group status? In the context of the in-group/ out- group designations, in-group subcultures and ways of life are more privileged than others. On this premise a path is lighted for the classified out-group to act in accordance with assigned stereotypical subtexts.
Again, an aware people must not accept this and as a collective, initiate a course of cultural rejection of the social order that coerces the out- group to act in expected/ designated ways that would empower them to catapult themselves as a group into a selected identity status.
I for one would not conform to these norms nor would I allow my children to internalize these social categorizations. These in-group/out-group dynamic structures where certain demographics are assigned subordinate and superordinate groups must not remain unchallenged.
The poem “We are” found in my book Splendor from Ashes, that follows, constitutes a rejection of negative cultural identities and their comparative reference points.
We Are (2004)
They are not statistics. They are flesh and blood; in fact they are
my beloved. I’ll slaughter you if you try to put them on that list. A
crazed bull, a sniper’s fire, a terrorist by night will be identifiably
tame by comparison if you touch my progeny. Don’t tell me who I
- Don’t tell them who they are. We are who we say we are. We are
not statistics on some eloquent politician’s tongue or mere figures
to be juggled on and off a “nuclear threat list”. We are not who you
force us to be by your fancy rules and your atrophied sociological
theories. We defy you and you and you—bold sucking, stereotyping,
witch-hunting theorists prostituting identities and futures to
your apathetic, lethargic, slothful psychology in your eagerness for
acclaim. We name ourselves, and we are whom we tell you we are,
and not what your forced-ripe theories label us to be.