A.C. Grayling today solidified some vague feelings I've had slumbering in my breast.
I'll tell you what I've been mulling over. You might guess from the title of this blog entry. It's identity.
In his book Liberty in the Age of Terror, Grayling points out - as, of course, is plain when you give it some thought - that we are all layered identities. I am not just my name, address, phone number, eye pupil measurements and fingerprints: I am, amongst other things, a mother, a partner, a daughter, a citizen, an enfranchised member of society, a political activist (thanks to the Labour Party), a sometime reader of New Scientist, a one-time (poor) guitar player, a listener, a dog owner and dog walker, an irate writer of letters to various newspapers, a chocolate lover, a home educator and a non-car owner.
That's to mention a few.
So I'm not just a collection of dubious and soulless statistics in the land of plastic cards. I have standing in other ways in this world, and I have various identities to cloak myself in when I deal with miscellaneous and sundry facets, individuals, groups or institutions. The more identities I have the more layered and interesting I become as a person and the more I can draw from the identities to both support me and present me to the outer reality.
To choose to box me into one area, for example, to call me a home educator (and nothing else) is to deny me a wholeness. To corral me into one enclosure is to make me less of a human. It may help you to define me, but it doesn't help me to be myself in all my complicated glory.
More complex human beings are interesting and they expand human consciousness. Shallow and simplistic identities restrict our reach, and reduce the holistic view of a person to the parts that person plays in the dance with the outer world. To see a being as only one thing is to lessen
him or her.
Thanks A.C. Grayling for helping me to condense my misgivings at the idea of identity cards. Not only do they fail in their stated function of reducing terrorism, but they increase the already intrinsic tendency of people in society to regard me as a mechanistic unit.
Identity is not catered for in schools, it is denigrated and denied. All pupils must function as one or conform to the expected. Only in home education are the various layers of identities in one person nourished and encouraged. Yet another reason that home education is better for the young than schooling: it empowers them, and allows them time and space to grow their identities.
Home-grown identities and complex, intriguing human beings – compliments of education outside school.