FRIDAY, 13 AUGUST 2004
Back to the thought of community or intellectual/spiritual enlightenment. It’s a practical and valuable illustration of the process of identity formation.
The person who chooses Enlightenment says: I spend a lot of time on my own; I don’t unnecessarily conform to conventions; I strive for knowledge and understanding.
Someone who chooses Community says: I spend a lot of time with family and friends; I am part of an intimate community on a daily basis.
I can go further and give names to these two options (unfortunately both male names): John the Baptist for Enlightenment, and Jack Campbell for Community (named after the Nicolas Cage character in the film, Family Man).
The question then becomes: Who are you, John the Baptist, or Jack Campbell (or the female versions of these characters)?
My own initial response (though it sounds slightly frightening) is Jack the Baptist – or, John “Family Man” Campbell.
Of course it can be said that I am very comfortable with the idea of the Desert Walker who doesn’t concern himself unnecessarily with conventions.
I am very comfortable with being John the Enlightened today, and tomorrow, and next week. Long term is a different matter – then powerful visions of Jack the Family Man kick in.
We take measures to alleviate inconveniences such as loneliness, and these measures become intertwined with how we see ourselves and how we appear to the world. To what extent is “I as result of measures” the “true me” and to what extent is it almost a barrier to who you “really” are? Or, should measures simply be accepted as building blocks of identity in the same way as one would accept the genetic instructions in DNA as building blocks of identity? And yet, measures easily change with environment … which brings you back to the slipperiness if “true” identity.