In 2021 I read, and listened to forty books. I discovered a number of authors who ended up greatly moving the tectonic plates of my world view around. I was thankful for that. The last book, which I am taking into the new year with me, was “The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity”, by Kwame Anthony Appiah.
The book is a brilliant look at identity and how it is shaped by our culture, our education, our religion, and in fact by our own perception. Who are you and, more importantly, who do you want to be? Many European nations are younger than the USA. Germany and Italy became nations only in the 1900s. Two hundred years ago you might speak Italian or German but you were a citizen of the Austrian empire. Or, if you were born in the Alsace, for example, your father might have been born a Frenchman, your grandfather a German and your great grandfather a Frenchman.
What is your identity? Perhaps one should make an annual list of the ten identities that first spring to mind. I bet it would change from year to year as different identities come to the forefront and recede. A new parent might list father or mother as their very first identity, but twenty years later it might only make the second half of the list. You might have a new hobby and be so engrossed in it that is makes the top three of your list of identities… five years later it might not even be remembered.
This could be a good exercise to help us realize how fleeting and arbitrary identity is. It is certainly hardly worth fighting or killing somebody for.