Identity! Seems pretty basic. In fact, so basic that like, air and water and sunlight, it’s easy to take for granted. Also, like the elements, it is essential for life and well-being. “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” (Erik Erikson). From this basic premise, we thought that it would be useful to share what motivated us to start a movement founded around identity.
Those of us at the core of this effort have been extensively involved in a wide range of personal growth work and organizations. After years of focusing on symptoms and niche demographics in the pursuit of healing and growth, it occurred to us that there had to be more. As one of our group stated, “what you focus on grows” and he was correct. We found that the more we focused on the symptoms of our issues, the more those issues grew in our lives. Likewise, when we isolated ourselves with fellow strugglers, it was then that we were more likely to drift towards myopia and victimhood.
So, what if we went deeper and broader? What if we looked beyond symptoms and constituencies, and instead looked for healing and growth by addressing the root cause that we shared with the rest of the human family? We did just that, and in the process literally discovered identity.
Research, experience, observation, reflection and discussion has led us to the conviction that lack of, or weakness in identity is at the root of the challenges we face as individuals and as a society, and that this identity dilemma is what most of us have in common. Whether the challenges involve abuse, addictions, relationships, employment, or faith crises to name just a few, we believe that at the core of each is the deep human desire to connect intimately to someone and something. This intimate connection is only possible when we have a foundational understanding of who we are*; an understanding built on something solid that can withstand fear, doubt and the shifting tides of time and humanity. So, we declare that identity matters and that the challenge of discovering and creating an identity in the 21st century can’t be assumed or taken for granted as might have been the case in the past.
Our mission, inspires us to emphasize, to the individual and collective consciousness, the importance of discovering and creating identity, by offering a wide range of writings, programs, and resources for men, women and couples; eventually, we envision this movement will indirectly and directly impact children and youth.
Vision of the future
And so, what does the future look like? We hope that the answer is “you.” We hope that what we have to offer is of interest to you and that you will want to join us by attending one of our programs, volunteering your time and sharing the identity message with others.
As we’ve said in this blog and on our website, ours is a big vision. While we offer retreats, groups, ideas, and discussion, for men, women and couples, none of what we do or whom we serve adequately describes who we are and want to be as an organization. To date the descriptor that we find fits us best is, “movement**.”
And so, we are creating the Identity Movement. This looks like working to create a world of people, young and old, male and female, in community and yet true to themselves, who can live and love together because they possess a secure, flexible and unique foundational identity. This vision flies in the face of the popular understanding and application of identity which seems to use identity as a wedge to drive us apart into competing tribes. So, the commonsense solution would appear to be to suppress our differences; we’ll get along if we are the same, have the same beliefs, or hide who we are.
We however do not offer a “commonsensical” solution, but rather one that is “paradoxical”. The more secure and flexible we are individually and collectively in our identity, the more we will tolerate and live harmoniously with those who possess a different identity. The reason being that if we are secure in ourselves, we are less likely to be threatened by someone else and their unique identity; I don’t need you to be like me for me to be happy with “me". *** A secure identity also requires flexibility, the ability to adapt and grow in the face of changing circumstances. To be very clear, we are not promoting a preferred or superior identity, but rather we are offering tools that can assist in developing unique identities, which in turn are able to co-exist and create vibrant synergies together.
Oh yes, there is an identity that we want to claim; idealists. Idealists who know no age, nor status, but are united by a belief in the divinity that exists in each of God’s children and who support the journey that each of us takes throughout mortality to reconnect to Divinity.
So, as Combeferre sings so boldly in Les Misérables “Will you join in our crusade?” We’d love to have you. To find out more, go to the Contact Us page.
*” Mature intimacy can only occur in the light of an established identity” Erik Erikson as quoted by Francis L. Gross, in Introducing Erik Erikson, pg. 49, 1987.
** “a series of organized activities working toward an objective also: an organized effort to promote or attain an end, as in the civil rights movement.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary
*** “Once a sort of working unity [within the self-] is established, then I can afford to establish intimate relationships more concerned with the other person . . . Nor will I have to contend to as great a degree with the fear that my intimates will somehow swallow me up if I have a working grasp of what I have and the general direction I want to go.” Francis L. Gross, in Introducing Erik Erikson, pg. 49, 1987.