I am reading this very interesting book by an Austrelian – Kashmiri food writer turned author, Sarina kamini – “Spirits in a Spice Jar”. It is her memoir of a journey of rediscovering her roots. It says for Sarina’s Kashmiri family, food is love, love is faith, and faith is family. I reached the point in a book where Sarina is readying herself to once again accept who she is, where her roots are. And she says,
“That instead of being known by the sum of all the things that I am, I have become framed by the sum of all the things that I am not. A life scratched in negative neon.”
These lines hit me hard. In those words, she is explaining her struggle of defining herself with “I am not one of them”. Many a times, in our lives, we tend to define ourselves in exclusionary terms. I am not this, I am not that, We don’t do such things. This generates preconceived bios about the community, race or any social group from which we are excluding ourselves from. It’s ok when we try to exclude ourselves from antisocial elements like thieves, frauds and cons. It won’t create any social strife.
However, when we start excluding from our fellow citizens based on particular habit of doing things in a certain way, we saw seeds of descrimination. Even though the criteria of exclusion is as simple and small as use of small amount of sugar / jaggery in savoury dishes. When a child is exposed to such statements very often, it may develop a strong beliefs about that particular point.
Instead of defining ourselves in terms of “We aren’t like this” or “We don’t do that”, if we start defining in terms of who we are, I believe, we will start developing as an individual as well as society because having a positive identity always helps. It makes you self aware. It creates confidence about talents, good characters and values when we define ourselves based on these things. It is always good to tell “Be like him / her” rather than “Don’t be like him / her.”
In the age of social strife and discomfort, this “inclusive identity” will serve as a key to the happy and thriving society. I hardly doubt that there will be anyone who won’t desire for such happy and thriving society. Let’s all start creating this “Inclusive Identity” and wish for happiness…
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