George MacDonald says, “a man is enslaved to whatever he cannot part with that is less than himself.”
What is our identity? I believe this is a very important question. Unfortunately, I also believe that the answer has been muddied and twisted by our current, over-heated, political climate. Phrased “What is your identity?” who can help but think of the myriad politically-correct, predetermined categories that seek to answer that question for us. White, black, hispanic, middle class, lower class, poor, rich, one-percent, gay, straight, bi, and everyday more are created. But this type of categorization is a distraction, and a lie. Have you ever wondered why the same political ruling class who champions equality-for-all continually separate us into smaller and smaller groups and goad us into feeling shame, guilt or rage for the other groups? This is identity used as a weapon.
But what is our identity? Who are you, as both human and as an individual? I believe we deeply want to know this answer. It’s like our soul is treading water until it finds a solid definition of “I” to rest on. (Unfortunately, our need for an answer is why this is such an easy way those in power can control us.) Politics aside, we still ne an actual answer.
CS Lewis writes: “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses [he means the I], into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into either a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself…Each of us at each moment is progressing towards the one state or the other.”
Peter Kreeft is a Catholic philosopher who teaches at BC. He’s 75 and loves CS Lewis and Tolkien as much as he loves surfing (which is alot). Peter Kreeft has a talk titled “Identity” were he discusses the answer through the writings of CS Lewis and Tolkien. (Unfortunately, surfing is not mentioned.) Here’s a quick, 5-minute taste of his talk. And if you like what you hear the whole thing can be downloaded for free from his website.