HOW DO WE KNOW WHO WE ARE?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
June 9 2009
Ayad Izzet Gharbawi
How many people do you know are honest with themselves?
How many people do you know, actually know themselves?
Assuming a person knows him or herself, how many people see their personalities, emotions and needs change over time?
Doesn't that fact, in itself, change the entire identity of these people?
I am also thinking about subjects such as love, marriage and how can we trust each other, if we human beings are not quite sure who we are - never mind that our entire personalities change over time?
Who am I?
That is a seemingly straightforward question.
But, is it so?
If you know 'who' you are, then tell me, 'who' exactly are you?
Suddenly, you find people grasping at any word or phrase they can find, in order to identify themselves.
But their words and phrases seem fragile and not quite so stable.
You will see a person whom you call your 'friend', who will say to you that, 'I am a loving, compassionate and caring person, who will never hurt a fly.'
We've all heard that description before.
It sounds wonderful – but is it true?
Do you believe what your best and most intimate friend tells you?
Furthermore, do you actually believe that he or she have any idea if they themselves believe what they are saying?
My opinion is this: we humans may speak whatever language we have been taught to speak, and we may 'believe' in whatever we is produced from our lips, but that 'belief' is only temporary. Our mistake is when we believe that what we see, feel and hear from our beloved ones are sincere passionate convictions, and therefore, these feelings must be believed to be as 'true'.
I put it you: that, when a person says a statement, he may certainly believe it. However, his conviction and his belief, is, in itself, based on a collection of uncertainty, insecurity and knee-jerk reactions to what his society and its traditions and its culture tell him to say.
Do not be fooled into believing that when a person 'believes' in any subject matter, then he will 'believe' in that particular subject matter for the rest of his life.
Let me give an example: suppose your dearest friend is always loving, caring and compassionate. Then, one day, to your horror, you discover that your friend assaulted another friend of yours for no reason. You discover that your so-called compassionate, loving and caring friend has not quite behaved as he ought to.
How do you now judge this friend of yours?
Clearly, your friend isn't persistently compassionate, loving and caring. Clearly, he has other uglier dimensions to his personality.
Presumably, you ought to take these new facts into account – no?
Or, maybe you choose to ignore these new repulsive attributes of your friend?
So now, allow me to ask you: how do you define the identity of your friend in the light of these new facts?
You may say, that my friend is this or that adjective.
But, I disagree.
I disagree, because, your friend basically does not have any secure, certain, firm attributes that we can talk about.
Given any changing circumstance, your friend will evolve and change and adapt.
Humans, I tell you, are chameleons!
And therefore, I myself, do not and cannot pay too much attention on what the identity of Man is, because fundamentally, Man has no identity to speak of.
With my eyes and with my experiences, I look at Man and, of course I judge.
It is really difficult not to judge men, women and children – can you not judge when you look at people behaving and acting as they do?
And, as I look around me, I see nothing but folly.
I do not see Man is a sage creature.
I do not see Man as a reasonable, humanistic creature.
Instead, I see him – for the most part - as a mean, cruel minded creature.
I see Man as a creature who – for the most part - will lovingly seek to destroy you if he can.
Man is mostly a liar, a deceiver and an actor.
The Hollywood Oscar prizes ought never to go to these silly, stupid actors who perform in films and on television.
Of course not!
I believe and I say that the Oscar awards for the Greatest Actors should be awarded to all the members of Humankind – men and women!
For these men and women are no actors. They are 'real' human beings, whereas the Hollywood actors are just that: actors.
Yes, you humans are the most polished and expert actors that History ever did see.
After all, didn't you fool History time and time again?
How many times, across the thousands of years of history, have the masses followed and idolized and adored a charismatic leader, who then led them to commit unspeakably brutal acts of murder?
How many times have you – yes you, my dear reader – how many times have you been deceived by humans that you believed to be the ones who supposedly loved you?
Have many times have you been let down and disappointed?
How many times have you given your heart, your innermost depths, embarrassing secrets and painful truths – and then be openly and blatantly betrayed and humiliated?
And what, in anything, does that tell you about people?
I believe, that if we think soberly and seriously about who we are, and about what our identity is, we will discover an ever changing mixture and patterns of emotions that can be said to represent us.
One thing that is for sure is this: practically no one can say what their 'identity' is.
This is because, to define one's identity requires one to have strong, stable attributes, and these are attributes are usually completely missing from most people.
There is no certainty or precision when comes to our understanding what is the exact nature of our identity or personality.
In other words, there in an uncertainty factor when it comes to anyone trying to declare that Person A has the following attributes, a + b + c + d, and that the sum collection of a, b, c, d gives you the identity of Person A.
Precisely because, the attributes a, b, c, d are all imprecise and liable to act and react and change with one's surroundings and the events that take place in one's life.
And, of course, we haven't even mentioned that the fact, that the brain itself undergoes changes in the neuro-chemical sense.
Therefore, when we talk and interact with people, we must realize that we are interacting with entities of no fixed abode.
People do not have any sense of 'who' they are.
Indeed, this very question of: 'Who are you?' is a question that most makes no sense, just as it doesn't make any sense to ask: what exactly are the physical attributes of an electron?
And, most people do not know how to identify themselves, precisely because they have no idea as to 'who' they are.
Now, let us ignore the fact and the subject matter of how can it be that people cannot and do not 'know' who they are.
The fact is, you must still interact and socialize and talk to people.
We cannot escape each other.
Obviously, we need to work, in order to make money and obviously we need to socialise in order to live our lives – otherwise we would be hermits.
No person 'knows' who they are.
People change their entire identity and their entire personality over time and in an instant.
Do not believe or rely on or depend on any person because humans are so fragile, brittle and ever changing.
Do not allow yourself to fully and totally 'love' anyone because, those that you 'love' will change, and then you will be shocked, startled and repulsed, by the fact that those you 'loved', may change into creatures that you cannot possible agree with.
Ayad Izzet Gharbawi