My Identity

Recently I was challenged to define my identity. Something I did not want to think about and it proved harder than I thought. I was born to a relatively religious family in late 1960's in Iran. Most of my identity was defined by the Iranian nationalism and Islam. Until in late 1980's when I landed at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I was in good company as many people I met were religious, patriotic and conservitve. My love of technology and history landed me in late Professor Altschul's history classes. Under him I learned about numerous wars and atrocities waged in the name of a religion, an ideology or nationalistic pretenseces. All of a sudden I found myself searching for a meaning to who I was. I could no longer identify myself affiliated with anything that made sense to me. Throughout the years I have struggled with the question of my identity. I found myself identified as an Azari Turk. But, that was short lived as it did not make me feel whole. Since then I have lost all affinity to a religion, ideology or geographic location. I tried and have tried to become a human being.

One thing that Professor Altschul made sure we understood was how easy it was for people to justify themselves killing other people. We extensively talked about the Holocaust and the the dacade before Nazi's took power and what followed was a nightmare for humanity and not just Jews. The process that led to the gas chambers and how methodical they were in optimizing the murders was horrifying to me. I wept in sorrow of babies being tossed in the air by the Ustaša and caught on bayonets.

Slowly I realized the savage beast in me caused by my blind nationalism and religious upbringing. I worked tirelessly to be kind and understanding. I no longer wanted to be associated with anything that once acquired power could instigate violence on others.  I am in awe that the horrors of WWII and genocide have been relived by millions since then. Google it and you will be surprised how many genocides have happened or happening since then. We don't know and do nothing because the international order cannot do anything or does not want to be judged on the same grounds the same way.

How and why do I have to identify with notions that have caused so much suffering and pain. Why do I have to acknowledge my ancestors and religion I have inherited that I had no say in it. I had no say in who my parents were or where I was born. I did not choose any of that. And yet I am supposed to choose sides and wage war for what I had no choice.

I am a biological being weak and in need of food and shelter. I desire love, safety, self expression and procreation. I am among many who desire the same to live long and enjoy being alive. I do not wish harm on anyone and desire the same from them. I affirm my humanity and compassion for others. I stand with the oppressed, murdered and suffering. My identity is my humanity and my love for people. I value kindness, inclusion, tolerance and empathy. I value science and logic. I acknowledge I am a speck of dust in the universe we live in. I have a short time to be alive and to make a difference and I choose to make the life of those around me better.