When you are more, am I less?
When you are stronger, am I weaker?
When you flourish, do I become poorer?
Around the world today, we see that our identities have become competitive and conflictual. We construct our identities by defining (1) who we’re against, (2) how we’re superior, and (3) the struggle for dominance. This is identity by negation and a recipe for war.
The irony is that these apparently “strong” identities are actually weak. They are rooted in fear, poverty, and envy.
What I cherish about neighbor-love and the common good is that they energize positive, mutually enriching identities of hope.
When you are more, I am more.
When you are stronger, I am stronger.
When you flourish, I am enriched.
Loving my neighbor as my self means wishing for them what I wish for my self – love, justice, and flourishing. Here our good becomes common, something shared and mutually strengthening.
True identity is not a zero-sum game or a struggle for domination. As Vaclav Havel so profoundly understood, “Identity is not a prison but an appeal for dialogue with others. Love for one’s fellow humans is the central commandment of all of our contending cultures.”
Pause for a moment today and ask yourself:
What is my identity?
Do I define myself by who I’m against?
How can my identity be reimagined to affirm, include, and empower others?
This is the work of courage, character, and creativity that we so urgently need today. It is a pathway of hope.