The Importance Of Cultural Identity

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“No man is an island,” wrote the great 16th century English poet John Donne, noting mankind’s perpetual desire to “belong.” Since the dawn of humanity, we have endeavored to forge a collective identity. Initially, this sense of community emerged from the need to protect us from wild beasts. Over time, the scope of fulfillment extended to self-actualization—the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—and social groups began distinguishing themselves through their unique value systems and rules of conduct. We named this “culture.” Today, in the 21st century, our cultural identities as individuals are more fragmented than ever despite having evolved from certain core patterns of behavior inherent to our dominant cultures. Simple put, a cultural identity is the sum, combination or subtraction of nationality, ethnicity,…show more content…
That’s what it says on my passport but I do not (or subconsciously refuse to) identify with the Pakistani culture. The role of religion in my life too is negligible, although I consider myself spiritual. In fact, I experience reverse culture shock every time I go back home. You can call me a “third culture kid”—someone who left his country of origin a few weeks after birth and moved back when he was in his late teens. The middle I spent moving around the world as part of a Foreign Service family and attending international schools (besides the U.S) where racial diversity was the rule, not the exception. In fact, it often surprises people that I feel more at home in multinational or multiracial settings than homogenous ones. That is why I instinctively like Malaysia a lot more than Thailand, where I studied and worked for a few years. Ethnically, I am half Pashtun and half Punjabi. Again, I identify with neither and neither can I speak Pashto or Punjabi. Regrettably, I even struggle to converse in Urdu (Pakistan’s national language), so for all intents and purposes, English is my first
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