1) What do you understand the passage to be saying about identity? Use example
2) What is your response to Maalouf’s ideas about identity?
PASSAGE: The following is from Amin Maalouf’s book, In the Name of Identity. In this book, Maalouf discusses the need to belong and acts of violence that often
accompany struggles over “identity” in local communities and across the globe. He draws on examples from his complex identity as a French-speaking Parisian, whose
first language was Arabic and who grew up as a Christian in Lebanon.
“. . . each of us has two heritages, a “vertical” one that comes to us from our ancestors, our religious community and our popular traditions, and a “ horizontal” one
transmitted to us by our contemporaries and by the age we live in. It seems to me that the latter is the more influential of the two, and that it becomes more so every day.
Yet this fact is not reflected in our perception of ourselves, and the inheritance we invoke most frequently is the vertical one.
This is an essential point with regard to current concepts of identity. On the one hand there is what we are in reality and what we are becoming as a result of cultural
globalization: that is to say, beings woven out of many-colored threads, who share most of their points of reference, their ways of behaving and their beliefs with a vast
community of their contemporaries. And on the other hand, there is what we think we are and what we claim to be: that is to say, members of one community rather than
another, adherents of one faith rather than another. I do not deny the importance of our religious, national or other affiliations. I do not question the often decisive
influence of our vertical heritage. But it is necessary at this point in time to draw attention to the gulf that exists between what we are and what we think we are.
To tell the truth, if we assert our differences so fiercely it is precisely because we are less and less different from one another. Because, in spite of our conflicts and our
age-old enmities, each day that goes by reduces our differences and increases our likenesses a little