[Note from Kathie Malley-Morrison: Today’s post is by my dear friend and long-time activist for peace and justice, Anthony J. Marsella. Anthony is Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, and is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR). He has published 15 books and more than 240 chapters, articles, and popular pieces, many on peace and social justice.]
The emergence of our global era confronts us with new and bewildering challenges to the formation, change, and assertion of our identity:
- “Who am I?”
- “What do I believe?”
- “What is my purpose?”
- “What are my responsibilities?”
- “How did I become who I am?”
Age-old questions regarding identity must now be answered in the context of unavoidable competing and conflicting global forces that give rise to increasing levels of uncertainty, unpredictability, confusion, and fear.
A sense of identity is at the core of human existence and meaning. It offers us an awareness of who and what we are. Amidst our quest for identity—essential to human functioning—we are missing an identification that may be critical for our survival, and that is an identity with life itself.
We seem oblivious to the fact that above all things, we are alive, and life deserves our loyalty as much as any other identity we may have or pursue. We are embedded in life; we are surrounded and immersed in life in millions of ways. It is the most obvious and yet most ignored aspect of our being, and in our ignorance, we fail to see that we are connected, united, linked to so much more beyond ourselves. That “connection” holds the key to our very nature.
I would like to suggest that a solution to many of the challenges we face may be to move beyond our conventional identifications with self, culture, nation, and even humanity, to an identification with life—Lifeism.
Please consider—and respond to this post—with examples of how you can become a lifer, how you can embrace life more fully, and cherish all life on earth, not just that of yourself and those close to you.
Anthony J. Marsella
Show, by your actions, that you choose peace over war, freedom over oppression, voice over silence, service over self-interest, respect over advantage, courage over fear, cooperation over competition, action over passivity, diversity over uniformity, and justice over all.
Adapted from Marsella, A.J. (2012) Lifeism and nonkilling; I am what am. In D. Christie & J. Pim (Eds.) Nonkilling Psychology. Pp. 361-387. Honolulu, Hawaii: Center for Global Non-Violence.