I’m seventeen, and a conflict in identity seems to be one of the many on-going dialogues I keep on having with myself. Recently someone told me that the best way to be confident with who I am is to know and explore all the various components of my identity. The aim is to have all this knowledge simmer inside to surely become all mixed up inside yourself, in the huge melting plot that is you.
You see, I’ve always previously been someone who’s given some parts of her identity more value than others. For example, this blog: set out to highlight the experiences of being a minority. These days, however, armed with the knowledge I blogged about on allthingswordy – of my “self” considered separately from all the labels attached to me, I can explore these parts of my identity. I can be incredibly tongue-in-cheek with how I “throw” around words that describe me as Other.
And this is all simply because I am setting out with the mindset to not give one part of my identity more value than the other. The base line, you see, is that I am who I am – that sheer essence in place of all the labels that speak for myself and through which I view the world.
Yet all this is recent, and it’s difficult to translate into words and actions. For example, let’s consider my “history” because not only am I British, but I’m also Bangladeshi, a few years back I was a part of occupied India…
…also, Muslim, which if you’ve been with The Ottoman Empire was kind of filled with all sorts of political yes-no confusion.
My history runs through more than just two veins.
I have England, gorgeous Game of Thrones England, with its green fields and its countryside and its being an Island.
I have Bangladesh, and pretty much most of South Asia considering my ancestors are originally from a village called Shillong in India but have come from different areas around Nepal, Burma, and India.
I have the history of every country that ever chose to occupy me, be that Britain, or the Dutch, or wherever else. Although recent research into this history makes me think that even if there was occupation, we Indians kind of ran ourselves.
History is awesome, and conflicting, and sometimes it’s hard to choose sides. Especially when you watch movies like London Has Fallen, feel great patriotism for my city, but then see that it’s basically all of South Asia and the Middle East that we’re being emotionally shaped to hate.
And then with India, and Britain, and the Middle East there’s the Big Bad West, which has occupied India and taken advantage of it and been a real mean superior acting ass how do I love this country then and it’s also emotionally shaping us to despise it when you hear about stuff like the Amritsar massacre, and also the whole being Muslim thing and the Middle East (where most of the Muslim countries/people are) being bombed left right and centre by Western command…
But also politics really confuses me, and it’s never so black and white, yet I’ve been taught such starkly black-and-white views on all the countries I’m considering. When you look at the history of each individual country with Saudi Arabia being buddy buddy with Britain, the Ottoman guy as the diva who instructed Queen Vicky on fashion, and massacres and hatred on both sides.
Oh, but, gosh Mahima. Why do you have to pick a side? The whole world now is made up of conflict more than you thought you could imagine, but have you seen the gore of history? It’s what brands us as human beings, quite unfortunately. We’re just really good at barbarism. Civilisation is still an illusion, a happy dream.
The thing about learning about the different sides of yourself is that despite the odds, and popular consensus, you don’t need to hate the whole of Britain or the whole of British history because of its bad stuff, same way you don’t need to hate the whole of India, or the whole of the Middle East for its bad stuff.
Hate the bad stuff, the Amristsar massacre, the terrorism, the reparations India supposedly had to pay – detest it so much because yes those are detestable actions and events.
Yet always remember that it is silly to despise the whole of Britain because even India and the Ottomans loved it once, and frankly you shouldn’t ever let geopolitics decide whether you love something or not because it’s just as confusing these days and the only difference is the people and systems you are looking at have already died.
Hate the bad stuff, love the good stuff, and realise that the world is best run on compassion and if you’re going to be patriotic for all the very parts of yourself, do so. But be patriotic for the good stuff, and denounce and detest the bad stuff. There’s no one good country and there’s no one bad country. You love them both equally even if today’s (and history’s) rhetoric doesn’t.
This is all yours.