Reflections

Ain’t Spanish although my passport says so… (A fight against label and grouping)

From some time on I’ve been feeling I couldn’t identify myself with any nationality. Alright, I’m officially Spanish and  I probably have behaviors that derivates from my Spanishness but the thing is that this idea of nationality, motherland doesn’t say anything to me anymore.

Since I came here, to India, I’ve been confused a couple of times by being Indian but this is not an isolated case. Before that, I’ve been confused by being Hungarian, Moroccan and Italian.

I must confess that at the beginning, when I first left home to live in another country, I felt swollen with pride trumpeting my spanishess to the four winds, it was like I felt the necessity of proclaiming my nationality. Whereas at the present time, I don’t experience that urge anymore. I don’t care much what the nationality of the others is and I don’t think that my nationality tells so much about who I am neither.

What is this fascination with attaching labels to oneself or belonging to a group of people?

Why this interest in indentify ourselves as part of a group in opposition to the other? Why if instead of introducing ourselves with our “nationality, sex, religion or race”, we only introduce oneself with the name as an individual?

I am obviously product of my culture. I’ve being raised in Spain so a part of what I am is product of being Spanish, I’ve being raised as a christian, so a part of me is product of that religious education (or a reaction against it, in my case), I am a woman, so I’ve been told what women are and how they behave in my culture. However, I don’t want to be identified in any of those groups.

I am in one of these moments in our life when my old beliefs begin to breakdown and I start to see things in a very different way and so I start to ask myself questions like “why do I belong to this nation?” This invisible frontiers between countries are something not related with the common people, I wasn’t asked about these lines… All these structures, beliefs, are based on other people ideology, not mine, so why should I submit to these structures and distinctions?

All is about making groups and separate one from the other. All is about longing to be accepted by the others in the group I am included by others. The more I think about it, the less sense I find it has.

It’s the same with separation by sex. Yes, I am a woman and I am completely different from a man… in appearance. Over history, all cultures without exception have encouraged men to be powerful and strong, and women as a material possession to show. Man must be strong and women must be sweet. Men must be macho and powerful and women must spend lots of time and money taking care of their appearance so that they can be loved by one of those powerful machos. I am tired of hearing that women only look for love, for a husband, for money… But I have seen cases of women that don’t look for these things, are we less of a woman? At the same time, I’ve seen men looking only for these things, are they less of a man?

Everything, history, media, society… tells us that women and men are different from each other but that’s only apparently. Haven’t you heard to a guy joking about “his feminine” side or about a woman, considered as masculine? We all have a side of the other and the ideal would be to find that opposed side and reach a balance between the two.

If you ask me now to define myself I would probably have a very hard time but the paradoxical thing is that I feel I have a better and deeper understanding of who I am now than when I was blindly accepting being inside those defining groups.

I leave you with a citation I timely read that inspired this post just when I was already reflecting about nationalities and such.

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system. He is concerned with the total understanding of mankind” – Jiddu Krishnamurti.

6 thoughts on “Ain’t Spanish although my passport says so… (A fight against label and grouping)

  1. Hi Maria. Great to know you’re doing well in such a different culture as the Indian one. I agree that we’re part of what we were told during our formative years in school, and only a few of us get to challenge such views. So what do you think of this social experiment in Sweden designed to allow children to develop free of sex preconceptions; do you see that happening in other places as well? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14038419

    • I just read the news and I’d love to see it works but I don’t know if only having this kind of education in school is enough. I think this should be generalized to work, but it’s still a great initiative. I can’t see it happening in many other places though. There’s much of a traditional way of doing things and this would probably be seeing as harming to the “identity” of the child. Thanks for the link, Victor, it was interesting :)

  2. I think we all use this sort of labels to a certain extent to make clear who we are – to ourselves and others. But if you feel locked in by them, you can always choose to let go or define yourself with new labels that better suit you. A fascinating topic, good to read about it today :)

    • I don’t see anything bad in this labeling but for me it’s more than I don’t find myself recognized in those labels and somehow, at the moment, I can’t or don’t want to define myself in any way.
      Glad you enjoy the reading! :)

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