|6 Jan 2010 @ 17:04, by John Grieve|
Identities: A Call for Toleration
In earlier times identity was a sort of secret agenda which was not completely revealed. In the Pre-modern era what people had to learn was to tolerate the religious ideas and opinions of others. "Toleration" was a key issue in the wars of religion which erupted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After this, toleration needed to be learnt for others' intellectual beliefs in philosophy and politics.
Summarising the pre-modern period we can say that it was about learning to tolerate difference at the ideological level and was an issue of identity at that basic stage.
The next period could also be interpreted from the perspective of identity and in a more open way. With the French Revolution and Modernism emerged the fact and consciousness of classes and Nation states. This immediately led in the following period to the problems of identity associated with race, nation and class. The 20th Century was as intolerant in these areas as the preceding age had been about difference of religion and belief.
It is my opinion, and you may find this belief controversial, that racism is no longer fundamentally an issue in this present post-modern age. Modernism came to an end finally with the election of a black president of the United States of America. Racism is not an issue in the present disturbances in the Church of England or the Church of Rome or in America. This period that has just ended had a problem with what we can call Social Identity.
If we want to know what is the central identity issue of this current post-modern time, this Information Age, then we have only to look again at what is disrupting the peace of global churches and secular society. It is the twin issues of Personal Identity expressed by Gender and Sexuality with related things like transgender and cross-dressing. That is what is causing such turmoil everywhere and provoking such intolerance. It is an issue of Identity and Toleration which needs to be urgently addressed.
As we proceed from the outer to the inner, from ideological through social to personal identity, we are approaching the ultimate identity of Beings who are at one with Nature. This area of personal identity raises issues which are at the heart of our crisis of civilization. We are on a return journey from the outer reaches of alienation, in a process of healing which integrates ideologies, societies, our personalities and our natural,spiritual being.
Our ultimate destiny is to be re-united with nature and god/dess. The issues of gender and sexuality are central to civilization and the problems it faces, particularly ecological problems. Every civilization that has ever existed has oppressed women and has been homophobic. One may also add that every civilization that has ever existed has eventually collapsed. Societies based on sexism and homophobia are ultimately unsustainable. The reason is that beyond the personal level of identity lies our identity as natural beings, from which we are completely cut off by our alienation.
To get beyond this personal stage we have to learn to show tolerance of gender and sexuality differences, and thus re-connect with nature and with God, which are alternative versions of the same thing.
Relevant here, and to the term "Information Age", is a saying, considered occult, which was a favourite of the great philosophical mystic Edward Carpenter: "We clothe to descend, we unclothe to ascend". This is generally understood to mean that we become material bodies to "descend" from heaven and incarnate, and that we slough off these material bodies to "ascend" back to the Source. With the Information Age in mind and in the present context I interpret these words to mean that our identities at this personal level and beyond will be partly constructed from Information and the tools of this Information Age.
Identities: A Call for Toleration. A plea for Toleration.I am not pleading for my life, but Yours.