Who Are We?

Theory: our identities are a result of the ideas of our society.

Social Identity Theory is the psychology of how each of us sees a group which or a leader of a group who we connect with. 

How we know what and who we are looking at is determined by the values we grow up in as children.

For example, if you were born in a private hospital in a large city, your parents are still married, they own their own home plus have investments and you take family holidays, the values you grew up in are affluent: no awareness of how your family came by its wealth socially or historically.

As another example, if you were born under the stars surrounded by your extended family and tribe, your first contact with the outside world was the dirt of the country where your ancestors have lived for 60,000 years, and each country has strict diplomatic access laws, the values you grew up in are subsistence: no awareness of using the land or other people for material superiority.

Between the two examples above, we may instantly recognise societies constructed on vastly different ideas. 

The ideologies of those societies, the tapestry of ideas which weave together to form a society, are not merely divergent but antithetical: their values are mutually opposed.

Culture clashes and individual conflict arise due to the inability of one group or an individual to exchange their values for the others, to walk in the other’s shoes. 

The key barrier to this transition is not an inability to be open or a lack of sympathy, it is psychological. Where our identities are logically based on the values of the society we grew up in, it may be impossible for us to simply ‘get it’ from the other’s point of view.

The inherent logic of the alternative is simply chaotic until we can imbue ourselves with the ideological facts of the other.

Learning the language of a different society, a deeper and more intimate meaning than learning a foreign language, allows us to internalise the values and perspectives, the logic, of that society. Once we grasp the logic of that society, we are able to logically parse that society – to identify with it.

It is no minor fact that colonisation via cultural and religious indoctrination depends upon native peoples being prevented with violence from using native languages. It is no mere coincidence that religious zealots in missionaries and adoption agencies enforce a foreign language, whether English or Spanish or Portuguese, on Native Peoples.

For Australia to heal, to become one nation, the English speakers and Chinese speakers and et cetera must learn an Aboriginal language. The settlers and the visitors who have chosen to live here bear the responsibility of becoming familiar with the ‘traditional owners of these lands’. This lip service must end. 

Our lips must learn to speak.