Identity

One facet of human nature seems to involve identity. The fabric of a person’s identity can have many threads: birthplace, skin color, lessons drilled at home, expectations based on gender and age, inherent skills, schooling, neighborhood distinctiveness, and lived experiences.

Many theorists, from Plato through Fukuyama, hold that our individual and species identity is constantly in flux, with consistent struggle between the inner self and the outer world. The individual’s specific circle of society, the “outer world”, urges conformity to local mores, offering the security of acceptance as the reward. Thus, historically humans have been assigned to and exist within a comfortable, although limited, cultural identity. Any struggle between self and world was presumably resolved during a lifetime in a familiar setting.

Over eons of expanding human conduct and interaction in areas such as commerce, geographic exploration, artistic endeavors, scientific methods, and engineering systems, the rate of societal developments has increased to a dizzying pace. With the advent of social media, we are experiencing a frequently threatening collision of cultural differences on a global scale. Persons and groups can sense threats from sources previously too remote to recognize. (Interestingly, those who never felt that their identities were accepted in the larger circles of their own society are now able to find acceptance in virtual groups.)

Some people and groups strongly resist having their cherished identities altered by ‘outsiders’, putting up virtual and sometimes physical barriers; others welcome and accept, even invite, cultural change. I am interested in investigating the relationship between personal identity and global culture.


Does the freedom of a highly connected world come with a price?  How much seeking can one do before the search becomes more important than the self?


Can the left and right brain work in Harmony?


Will we come out stronger and more unified, or is the 'American Experiment' unraveling?