Religion and identity have always been a hotlycontested argument over the years. Many scholars and sociologistshave come up with philosophical literature delineating what religionand personal identity means. To me, religion is my world view andidentity is my personality, my demeanor and my uniqueness. Myidentity is multi-factorial being shaped by many factors. Externalfactors and internal factors define who I am (Burke, Peter, &Sheldon287). External factors include social, economic and politicalenvironment. Internal factors include biological processes thatdefine my actions such as neurological, physical and chemicalmake-up.
According to Jacobs et al, the place where aperson grows in influences personal perceptions and understanding oflife (Jacobs et al 100). Being a Chineseby birth, I was raised in a multicultural community with many sets ofreligious beliefs such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity andTaoism. My ancestors as I came to learn were staunch Confucianismbelievers. Due to the twentieth century china’s reforms and openingup, my parents sailed to America in search of their dreams. InAmerica they adopted new religious beliefs and practices and joinedChristianity. When they relocated to china in the 1990s is the time Iwas born. I therefore, grew up in a rather liberal family who hadleft Confucianism practices and embraced Christianity. I grewbelieving in Christianity which is a less popular religion in China.
Religion has played a big role in my life.Although I hold reservations on what I believe and uphold, religionhas generally shaped my moral, spiritual and social contexts. ThroughChristian teachings of humility, hard work, repentance andforgiveness, I have grown to be a better person. I have learntvirtues and responsibilities that define me as a human being.Religion has also shaped the community around me. Through theirvarious beliefs that we are one big cosmos interconnected spirituallyand hail from the same Supreme Being, the community has embracedharmony and togetherness. The social aspect of helping each otherwhen in need such as settling hospital bills, creating securitywatchdogs in the neighborhood and being each other’s keeper isattributed to our religious beliefs. I believe people have a moralobjective of taking care of each other. Such activities can only bepossible if we are united by something superior like religion.
When I was growing up, I was introduced to religion early enough.Christianity has shaped my moral and spiritual aspect and is one ofthe main external factors which have shaped my life. However, Ibelieve that I am a product of the social systems put in place. SinceI started schooling I have been subjected to many course works andliterature as well as the hidden curricular. Hidden curriculum beingthe out-of-curriculum knowledge has greatly impacted my interactionand social behavior with other people. It has taught me how to reactto things and handle people and different environments. The communityand culture have also influenced my identity. Cultural values such asrespect, rites of passage, taboos and community education havedirected my life from young age to adulthood. Nevertheless, I keep myeyes open on what I believe in.
To appreciate who you really are takes a lot of time and patience.What makes who I am is the beliefs I uphold and champion. I am arealist and liberalist. I believe in the freewill to make owndecisions and power to question what is not appealing to my setstandards of thought. I don’t believe in following things blindly.I like being a cautious analyzer of situations and creating validjudgments which suits my aspirations as a free thinker.
Religious doctrines per sea are the same as the systems that governour own existence or the constitution laws that govern us.
Religion is a form of slavery that confines individuals to believeand act in a certain way. I have had a fair share of controversiesdue to my stand as a person. One time I had an argument on scientificrelevance of human evolution theory and I supported the notion thatscientist evolution holds water. I advocated that creation theory asstipulated by Christianity is not all fulfilling in explaining theexistence of humans and their evolution.
Many church goers condemned my thinking terming it blasphemous andungodly. I have also seen a nurse being ridiculed by religiousfanatics for advocating abortion to willing women who unfortunatelyconceived but had no means of sustaining the fetus if born. Religionadvocates preservation of life and therefore, abortion would be asinful act. Putting such scenarios on the lens of reality andcritical thinking, religion should not be used only to define theways of mankind. Reasoning is important too since some decisions canbe relevant in particular situations.
Human beings are always craving for power and therefore, advocatethat their ideals and beliefs are more superior to others. Peoplelike changing others to conform to their own set of beliefs. Idislike being changed from my way of thinking because that whatdefines who I am. I like staying stoic and resilient to such winds ofchange. I like standing to my grounds, no matter the inherentconsequences. I therefore, believe that my identity as a free thinkerand liberalist should not be tied to just the accepted societal andreligious doctrines. Religion should be there to enrich myspirituality and not condemn me in chains of thought slavery.
Burke, Peter J., and Sheldon Stryker. “The Past, Present, andFuture of an Identity Theory.” Social Psychology Quarterly.63.4 (2000): 284-297. Web.
Jacobs, Mark D., and Nancy Weiss Hanrahan. "Religion as aCultural System”: Theoretical and Empirical Developments sinceGeertz." Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 97-113. Web.