Your roots and your identity

By Iqbal Abdullah in

62-year old Kuzo Ishigoro won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017. I saw him on TV and he was talking about his Japanese roots, and that got me thinking about roots and how we confuse it with our identity.

Many upheavel caused by nationalist movements in the current world around us right now are symbols of the assertion of identity and stems from the need to differentiate.

I believe though, contrary to popular belief, your roots are not your identity. Our roots are our past and history, mostly events in our lives which we do not have much say in due to our dependence of our parents and immediate families. Our roots are emotional attachments and memories of the past, that allows us to return back to a place where we came from, physically or emotionally.

Identity though, is forward facing: Identity is who you are, or who you strive to be in the future. You can choose to identify yourself with someplace or something, like the town you're staying in or and idea that feels right to you.

Your identity is a conscious choice, for better or for worse, which you can define.

To be defined by your roots, and then having your identity set upon you based on some set values of your roots is just too inhumane and unfair.

Knowing where you come from does help on figuring out where you will be heading, but it does not define your destination.