By Mamdouh AlMuhaini
12 May 2017
Commentators and intellectuals routinely offer solutions to the problems we experience. Some say that economic stagnation is the reason we are still an undeveloped country. Others say that political reform is going to save us. A third opinion asserts that a return to the past will save us from suffering and bring blessings. Fourth, a future full of technology is the only solution that will save our slowly drowning boat.
Perhaps all these solutions are part of the answer to the big question, but we forget an important point that may be bigger than all the above. In my opinion, the solution is to deepen the sense or humanism in the minds and hearts of people; everything without it will definitely fail and ruin.
Identities as Labels
Each one of us is born with pure human identity. However, this identity does not last long. We are labelled with all the religious, sectarian, ethnic and national identities that bury this original identity until we become completely unaware of it. You see yourself through the prism of religion or sect, and naturally weaken the original sense of being spontaneously connected to others.
The sectarian strife that we are continuously witnessing is mainly due to this acute and profound classification since childhood. The hatred of a particular sect or religion is necessarily formed at a young age due to one’s religious and sectarian identities. Sometimes we are told, with absolute certainty, that others are infidels and disbelievers, and we act accordingly.
Then comes the ethnic identity. You think that you belong to a particular race that is superior to others. The problems that we hear about superiority complex, class fanaticism, insult for others, preferring family and tribe in jobs and institutions stem from this identity. There is a constant whisper in one’s mind: “Your blood is purer than others.”
Those who believe in the hierarchy of races can hardly judge because they will certainly prefer the owners of the noble genes will persecute the owners of the other “despicable” ones. He will take something that is not his right but does not care about it. In his consciousness, he is superior to others, so he deserves to take his right and the right of others without an eye blink.
He will keep the job to his unqualified son because he believes that this son has the right to be happy at the expense of the misery of the children of others. If we checked the stories of widespread known corruption, we will notice that a large part of it is due to favoritism based on the preference of the close ones.
That’s how the original human identity vanishes, that identity which will make a human see others equivalent to him, would not steal their rights, and no longer sees them only through their colors and last names. We notice the same thing regarding national identities, which easily slip into a disgusting chauvinism that despises others just because the coincidence that made him belong to another nation with a different national flag and anthem.
Because of abhorrent chauvinism, wars break out only because of misplaced nationalistic feelings. It is strange that national identities have divided us as rival tribes even though it is a new phenomenon.
New identities have emerged in decades related to the social and financial situation. The rich person only sees in himself the amount of money he earns and sets himself barriers and restrictions that make him not to share space with the one who has average income. Almost everything that can humanly enrich him and help combine with others almost disappears, and luxury cars and first-class seats represents their personality and values.
Can a person live without these sub-identities and suffice only with human identity? Of course not. But if human identity becomes the primary and fundamental identity, all other identities give it a distinctive flavor. Maintaining human identity means keeping the correct approach to all other things.
In the religious and sectarian identity, one can see the aesthetic dimensions, ritual and heritage traditions that deepen human feelings and connect it with others. What you see in the family background is not superiority or transcendence, but the history and life of parents and grandparents that came to you and you should give it to others.
Nationalism turns into a sense of responsibility, and a desire to know history, but not a bomb that we throw at other nationalities out of anger.
Human identity is appropriate for the time we are living where races, faiths and nationalities are mingled together. The erosion of old identities means that one society will be torn and divided; conflicts can erupt at any moment. That is precisely why other people developed when their human identity was put ahead of all other identities, neutralizing intolerance, corruption and ignorance.
What would political and economic reforms, of the past and the future, achieve if the old identities become like prisons where a person remains from birth to death?
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms.