Vail Daily Open Bar column: The importance of individual identity
May 21, 2017
The passport-control line was a menagerie of accents, skin colors, fashions and tolerances for the concept of the queue. A microcosm of humankind, the serpentine string contained people of nationalities once and now conquering and downtrodden, brought together strangers whose ancestors had launched arrows and grenades and epithets at one another.
Through happenstances of geography, cultures formed, their often-minute differences serving as the wedges for cataclysmic schisms. Identity continues to be the fulcrum from which the pendulums of politics and personal relations swing. But current attempts at homogenization, from the left and the right, are as pernicious as outright warfare. It is precisely the co-existence of our almost infinite identities that provides our species with its promise.
On one side of the spectrum are those who foment outright hostility: the garden-variety racists, homophobes and other walking anachronisms. The concept of discrimination based on any factor is intolerable under any circumstances. Demonizing others due to their identity, outward facing or self-identifying, is the crutch of the cowardly, weak and insecure. Passed by in the march toward a brighter future, these unfortunately numerous souls pine for an idealized past that did not even truly exist in the first place.
Their counterpoints are those who preach color-blindness, who wish to strip away all markers of identity in order to remove any handholds to which intolerance can cling. Certainly, these folks have noble intentions, are a reaction to the transgressions of history. Their goals are decidedly preferable to the real or proverbial lynchings favored by their foils. But yet they still go too far.
“Each individual, no matter his or her color, sex, gender, orientation, attire, height, musical taste, wealth, talent or other feature, has a personal story that can enrich the whole. They must embrace the details comprising their identity to give full effect to their personal narrative. ”T.J. Voboril
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Overly cautious so as not to offend, they fail to realize that recognizing and not ignoring our identities is the most powerful path. We should not exist in counterpoise to the wicked, but should forge a new trail, engage in a new dialogue in which the taunts of the cruel are the last cries of a dying breed, given no more notice than rain on a dolphin's fin.
I am a white man with a mixed European heritage and an amalgamation of Catholic and Jewish religious and cultural identity. To pretend that I am an androgynous being devoid of any specific influences is to give short shrift to the perspectives that define me as a person and which I can lend to the collective good of humanity.
Extrapolating to the 7 billion who inhabit the globe, the possibilities for human advancement are limitless. Each individual, no matter his or her color, sex, gender, orientation, attire, height, musical taste, wealth, talent or other feature, has a personal story that can enrich the whole. They must embrace the details comprising their identity to give full effect to their personal narrative.
Celebrating the breadth of identity will put us on track to eradicate the barriers that require passport checks in the first place. Then, we will have that much more time to people-watch in the airport, to appreciate the glorious differences on parade.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner-mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.