Identity, where does it come from?

Definition of identity 


athe distinguishing character or personality of an individual INDIVIDUALITY

bthe relation established by psychological identification


Our identities are composed of many parts. Some are visible, and some are not. One way to explain the widespread emergence of self, as separate from the rest, would be in the 1500’s with Martin Luther, in what today is Germany. Once we understood that we could communicate with god directly, without intermediaries; I could pray to god, I can relate to god, and I can relate to others. I can get to know myself, and thus the emergence of personal identity.

“On the plane of ideas, we can see that the distinction between inner and outer, and the valorization of the former over the latter, starts in an important sense with Luther.*” 1

We have our identity and we depend on it to transact business, to relate to others, and to choose what we do. We all agree on what documents will prove our identity. We fight hard to be who we are. We struggle to gain acceptance, so we can safely say, “I am this way”. However, we haven’t had to prove we are not something else. Identity disbelief. How far has the concept of identity gone to where it has been weaponized, to deny something to someone?

Included in the references are two short video interviews. The first one is a parody, the second, to give the first context, is an interview that delves deeper into immigration issues in Europe. The videos are from Jazza John, a YouTube blogger and activist.

The video clips show how individuals are asked to prove they are gay, to be granted asylum on such grounds. To prove their sexual identity in a vacuum. Once the idea of identity is established, it can be denied. The interview ends with a parody that shows how identity can be used as a weapon. Something purely conceptual. The video also illustrates what are believed to be ways to prove who you are. What kind of questions would prove your sexual identity.

Identity derives from a mutual understanding that we will both see each other. We will recognize each other, as friend or foe. When the management of identity is given to an institution, aspects of identity can be deleted from the roster.  In the USA, it is said that transgender could be removed from the possible identities, then transgender people could become a non-identity. This rings to the inter war era where individuals were striped of their nationality, becoming stateless.

The 2004 movie The Terminal, with Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg is a spoof about a stateless traveler. This movie is an adaptation of a 1994 French film  Tombés du ciel . Nationality is an important part of identity, especially our professional and financial identity. We have social identity and identity theft. This last one costing consumers 16 billion in 2017.

I believe It would be difficult to prove one’s identity without trust or good faith; Without one’s peers. It’s not factual. One ought to keep in mind that often people are forced to obfuscate who they are in order to survive. How could one turn it around and be genuine, when all you’ve had is persecution? Individuals become guarded. We learn to deflect and obscure, and that eventually becomes part of our identity.





Prove you are straight, parody.


Full interview


“On the plane of ideas, we can see that the distinction between inner and outer, and the valorization of the former over the latter, starts in an important sense with Luther.*” 1

1) from “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” by Francis Fukuyama.

Note; Many centuries before Martin Luther, Augustine went through a similar tortured exploration of his inner self in his Confessions. Unlike Luther, however, his writings did not devalue established social institutions or trigger massive upheavals in the politics and society of his time.


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