Identity formation driven by Philosophy creation
Defining our Identity in a Pleasure Seeking World.
It is not what you are called, but what you answer to.
– African Proverb
When growing up, we are taught and given an array of rules and standards of conduct to follow from our elders, parents, teachers, and peers, including various forms of media that help us to formulate a philosophy of thinking about life and how we view ourselves as individuals. We choose our own paths to follow in our adulthood that guide our standards of behaviour.
What is the standard that governs our conduct? It can either be, culturally specific, religious or secular in form but basic standards of behaviour are typically culturally based and vary between societies. The common African proverb that we can relate to is that “It takes a village to raise a child”.
We must perceive ourselves as destiny driven individuals based on the choices that we make. Our destiny is defined by our choices. We are autonomous beings that all have the ability to choose destructive or constructive paths but keeping in mind that we construct our choices by the ideals we regard as important or relevant “at the time”. What ideals are relevant in a world that is pleasure seeking in nature? We construct our ideals that govern our conduct through critical analysis of the precepts that were taught to us in our formative years which help to formulate an opinion that inevitably becomes a system of beliefs that we value.
People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. ~Thomas Szasz, “Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin, 1973
We discover our true selves when we count the cost of each action possibly through trial and error activities. Sometimes, we can avoid trials if we ascertain the negative consequences that can result from a specific course of action. However, at some levels of our unconscious minds we bear questions that ask “What is the harm in having a litte fun?” in the “Live it Up!” entertainment that is redefining our self-image. We gravitate naturally to what is pleasurable rather than what is wise and rational. Pleasure seeks no rationale other than the fact that it is what it is, pleasurable; but true wisdom percieves the greater picture of things and forsakes prima facie (at face value) justifications for indulging in activities that deviate from true wisdoms standards that places value and deeply prizes the preservation of ones destiny to fulfill ones calling in life.
We have to ask ourselves “Can we live with making deliberate mistakes for the sake of pleasure, to only then experience the manifest realities of the consequences that are a result of pursuing these actions?” Is it better to live in regret-mode rather than choosing to avoid the “follow the crowd” mentality? Is it really better to do what everybody else is doing rather than be an outcast because you value wisdom over mediocrity?
Our frame of mind is always revolving on being part of this “imagined crowd” or “clique” of beliefs that embraces popularity over integrity but fails at realizing the importance of maintaining ones individuality. Such a philosophy does not seek to individualize, but rather immobilize our individuality by trapping minds to feel convinced that people need to belong somewhere with some people or group in order to “fit in”. Belonging to some group doesn’t mean you should have a fractured mind by seeking to be a “cheap copy” rather than being a uniquely whole person that embraces their individuality.
When your integrity is intact, your mind is too. You maintain your identity when you stand for something and stick to it, otherwise you’ll fall for anything and won’t be standing on level ground. Pursuing what is “popular” won’t define you as an individual when a secular standard of what that is is constantly being re-defined, remaining inconsistent and as a result confusing our identity that is always in a state of re-definition.
What is a person’s line of thinking when they do the things that they do? That is dependent on what we decide as a philosophy of life that we choose to rely on as a path that drives our destiny. Our Identity is solely based on our destinies. What is our destiny? It will be different for everyone but destinies are closely tied to how we perceive ourselves on an individualitic basis. We have to keep in mind that in a pleasure saturated world, we are provided with many roads and avenues to choose from that steer us away from becoming who we really are, but whatever decisions we make in this life, what lies ahead is an outcome that can either be constructive or destructive to our destiny as a result of these choices.
In a pleasure seeking world that is driven to satisfy the yearnings of our carnal desires, we at times shelve our conscience aside as we succumb to the thrills that life’s pleasures has to offer. Why do we shelf our conscience? Is it because we do not know any better? Or, is it because we are driven to find out what we are missing in our lives by gravitating towards activities that lead us to explore the flip-side of the coin? Is it that need to know “what we are missing” that changes our black and white ideals that we were taught as children, that creates this shade of grey? Pursuing this grey area posits that we have not fully embraced the philosophies that were ingrained in us by our parents or guardians in our formative years as a standard of conduct in our daily lives.
What we learn as children should be regarded as a guide used to help us make decisions on how we “ought to be” as we grow into full-fledged adults. Keeping in mind that the ideals and principles vary between many cultures and religions, what remains the same is that we create a standard with children as they grow up in maturity. On the other hand, this does not necessarily guarantee that as they mature, they will fully embrace these very same ideals that they were taught as they get to that stage of self-actualization during their adolescent years. When we become adults, we realize our autonomy to think for ourselves, but it can become difficult to define who we are in a world, particularly in industrialized nations that have paved a way to blur these ideals with mixed messages of what it means to be “accepted” and “acceptable” in this world when the philosophy of such nations capitlize on the idea that “popularity is more important than integrity”.
With the help of modernization and the advancement of technology, we cannot ignore how media has a role to play in the choices that we make in our daily lives. We are constantly bombarded with images and ideas that confuse our belief systems whether they be cultural or religious. We cannot deny that the precepts we learnt in our childhood evolves and changes with time as we learn more about “tolerance” and conveniently forget that there are some truths that remain absolute and unchanging. Unfortunately, we colour these truths with shades of grey as we progressively accept societal standards as the norm to which we abide by that ultimately help to construct our choice driven philosophies about life and how society feels we should live it. Hopefully, when we choose the path of wisdom, it will help us identify and recognize that secularism has a norm changing power that defines our standards through “Compromise”.
Because social media is a secular tool that paints a lot of these ideals with shades of grey, we perceive many of the ideals that we are taught by our parents to be arbitrarily black and white with no room for flexibility. We learn to acknowledge that there are general rules that are standard in terms of behaviour, but when we are given the ability to choose to deviate from these norms, we have to ask ourselves, “Who are We?” in an age where it seems that we are bombarded with subliminal messages that communicate to us that:
“You are not good enough just as yourself. You have to conform to the worldly standard in order to fit in it.”
This philosophy preaches as if to say individuality shouldn’t exist in a world that prefers conformity over strong-willed expressions of difference and a celebration of uniqueness.
“You must look like everybody else instead of becoming yourself”.
Such a basis of thought that refuses to remain consistent is what fragments the human soul when nothing is absolute. These normative rules that we are taught are simply a form of “character formation” that is assembled to culture our way of thinking into doing what is defined as “right” or “acceptable” within the boundaries of societal standards that do not remain consistent. This only adds to the confusion of many already-confused souls, in particular the younger generation who struggle with forming their own identity in a world that refuses to embrace individuality when celebrating a culture that thrives on popularity.
Inconsistency allows us to form a fragmented picture about who we are if we are unable to define who we must be. Although we are provided with a set or rules to govern “good” behaviour in our formative years, we must keep in mind that these standards provided by our parents and our peers, were created to drive us to make wise decisions and are meant to protect our best interests at heart even though as children, we do not always see the logic of how certain rules prohibit us from enjoying the thrills of what life has to offer.
As an adult, we start to critically analyze these rules and realize our autonomy to choose to deviate from the norm. Media is not often perceived as a philosophy forming tool, but it is one of the most powerful mediums that can be used to formulate a pathological way of thinking. How we define ourselves is based on what we decide to allow as part of our identity.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who or what is shaping your identity and philosphy of Life?” You or the World?
~~~~~Food for thought.
Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. ~Robert Brault