Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Theory Behind Cultural Identity

This is the introductory speech I gave with my group concerning Cultural Identity, so the listener would have a good idea of what it is and how much is encompassed in it. I would hope I didn't choke too hard when I presented it to the class-on an unrelated note, I learned how to use PowerPoint by the seat of my pants as we scrambled to get everything polished up for the persentation. This is something that, as a student of both the Japanese and English language, I would want to pass on to my students. Anyways, here it is, in all it's glory, and if you have anything you wanna say, comment away.

Cultural Identity is the way we define ourselves as people, whether it's by our race, our religion, our interests or anything else, and has its roots in many countries. It doesn’t really care whether our society emphasizes putting ourselves, our families or our community first. All the struggle and strife that follows finding where we belong out among the family, friends and media pulling at us like they were Stretch Armstrong is summed up by one question: Who are you? This should be an easy thing to answer, but therein lies the rub: How in the world do you answer to that? Of course we are our name, but what lies behind it, in support? The country you were born into? The family who reared you using their own ways of life? Another kind of living you seek to be a part of?

It’s natural for someone to want to get in where they fit in; all of us have been doing it since we were in diapers. As the world becomes more connected to and aware of itself, the collective yearning to uncover our lineage increases. This desire continues to fuel both journeys of self-discovery and businesses dedicated to researching family bloodlines, like, because few feelings are worse than that of traveling life’s back roads and highways without any sort of roadmap or guide, the very things having an identity to call our own gives us.

When we’re young, older folks call our search for this ideal ‘Just a silly little phase, mainly due to the ‘making mountains out of molehills’ mentality we have in those days, like when our friend is busy and can't give us a ride to a concert, we construe it as the end of all civilization. However, when we get older and start to solidify our 9-5, something starts to feel out of place, especially for those who never felt they had a heritage or lineage to either uphold or defy. Even the trailblazers and pioneers had people to look to for guidance when they need it, and those relatives, ancestors and mentors, among others, are the people who give us the tools to chisel the slab of our memories and life into something we want. That is part of Cultural Identity’s core: the contrast between the ideal and the reality.

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