By BENEDICT AUGUSTINE
“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
For the sake of finding oneself, “seeking one’s own will,” people will spend amazing amounts of time and money. They will spend thousands on college, thousands on traveling, hundreds (sometimes thousands) for various school activities. Ostensibly, they do this for noble enough reasons: a good education, a knowledge of other cultures, or gaining honor in some competitive event. More often in reality, people invest of these things for more personal reasons. They do so for the sake of identity.
In the past, people appealed to God, or to Nature, or to Reason; today, society appeals to Identity as the final good of all activity. People do not act because their action is right or just, but because it is part of their identity. Instead of seeking meaning, or seeking truth, people now seek themselves and create their own meaning by making themselves the measure of all things. For example, some African immigrants in Paris, in an interview with a reporter from NPR, explained why they insisted on wearing the burka despite laws prohibiting it. They did not appeal to sharia law, or logic, or even personal preference, but rather to their identity: the burka, a piece of clothing that covers everything except a woman’s eyes, apparently constituted a part of their identity as an African Muslim woman—despite the French law asserting that it does the very opposite by effectively hiding one’s identity. These women even declared that the efforts of cultural assimilation by the French provoked them to act even more radical in their expression as Muslims to preserve their identity.
Many progressives like to cite creating, maintaining, cultivating, preserving, embracing, or even celebrating identity as a motive for activism. What people think of themselves trumps what they actually do. Race, sexual orientation, and gender mean more than whether a person has a good heart, a good mind, or does good things. People think little of the good of marriage when they support same-sex marriage; they think of the good of the gay community. Likewise, those who advocate abortion hardly consider the grave immorality of killing an infant in the womb; they claim to empower the community of women. In most cases in which a group of people receive some kind of benefit, one can be sure that identity plays a much bigger than morality or values.
At its heart, the argument from and for identity is horribly self-centered. One explores his or her preferences in all facets of life, from fashion to sexuality, while the world could use some help. The naval-gazers debate what “feels right” for them in their values while neglecting traditional values, the principles that uphold civilized order, quickly evaporate. Post modern man has become such a meticulously customized individual that he cannot understand the fulfillment that comes from community, or sacrifice, or love.
Jesus makes a point that He does not seek to create a “Christian identity,” but simply does the will of the Father. By doing His Father’s will, and acknowledging God as His Father, He makes Truth and Love the final goal of human activity, not one’s own self. Ironically, one will find oneself as soon as they stop looking.People who strive to make themselves interesting often turn into horrible bores who name drop and show little interest in others. People who humble themselves and seek only to help win everyone’s respect and interest.
Jesus humbles himself infinitely, drawing humanity infinitely closer to His Father and one another. The proud, those with an identity to protect, lose themselves and those around them. Personal fulfillment quickly becomes personal emptiness. Once people decide to let go of themselves, they will find something much more substantial and meaningful than themselves: they will find God.