Friday, March 18, 2011


This morning's lecture was truly inspirational. The guy was awesomely cool and I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with everything he said. Which in itself is a first. He was talking about ethnicity, racism and inequalities and inequities and I suddenly found myself struck by a somewhat distressing thought: I don't have an ethnicity. I suppose that's partly because I'm white middle-class and all that.. but once the thought had appeared in my mind I couldn't stop thinking about it and I realized that I do not define myself in anyway. Pondering over it I found that I never fully identified myself with what it means to be woman in the traditional sense of the term; I wouldn't call myself straight nor gay nor bi; my passport says I'm Italian but I don't really identify myself with that either, nor with being English (despite the fact that I do love the Brits..); I was brought up Catholic but I beg to differ on many of the things that religious belonging implies; yes my skin is white but that doesn't really mean anything to me. What does that make me?I suppose you could say I don't have an identity. And yet I exist and very much so. ---> Epiphany!
Gender, nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion etc.. they don't exist! they are social constructs. The argument is slightly different for sexuality but that has come to have a very strong social component too. I mean, they exist. But the way we define them, the idea of what it means to belong to any group, is very much socially defined and highly stereotypised (ok that's not a word but it is now..). Personal identity goes above and beyond any of those labels. Those are just stereotypes no-one in the world really matches. And yet, people seem to be giving a massive shit about it. If you think of it, the moment you define yourself you also draw a line and define "otherness" therefore laying down the first stone towards discrimination. So the logic thing to do would be not to define yourself. Why, oh why, do we feel the need to restrict our identity to a few, inaccurate labels?
Wait, I know the answer to that.. it brings us back to the good old group and violence theory, good old Renèe Girard and escape goats. In short, people choose to homologate because when something goes wrong the group will pick on anyone who's different and kill them. And no-one wants to be put in the middle in that situation. Fair enough. I suppose you can't escape that. Wait, can't you?! Well probably you can't, but what you can do is to join sides with the escape goat. Throw yourself in the middle. Which doesn't mean repudiate your group belonging, it just means you choose not to see the line. That's it, that's the trick. That is what one of my favourite men in history has been trying to teach us for centuries.. that's what it means to take your cross and follow him. Don't be scared of consequences, don't be afraid of being the escape goat, cross the line that defines groups of people.. because actually there is no line......... we are all human beings after all.

John Barleycorn must die.

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