Do we build identities to achieve the confidence that hides our inner chaos from us?

Commentary by José Parés Pérez. Concepción, Chile.

Pedro, who had just been introduced to Juan, smiling politely at him, asked:

– “Juan, what?”

– “Casque, Juan Casque,” he replied, also smiling.

– “Look at that. What origin is your surname?”

– “I’ve never given a thought to that, but it seems to me that it comes from an ancient South American ancestry.” Juan replied politely, not smiling anymore.

– “Are you not interested in knowing the origin of your surname?” asked Pedro.

– “Well yes, I find it interesting but I have not taken the time to find it out. My life has other priorities.”

– “How interesting! What other priorities are you referring to?”

– “For example, knowing who I am now, because that is something one can manage, whereas my ancestry is something I cannot change.

– “But, Juan,” Pedro insisted, “though you cannot change it, you could learn a great deal about yourself if you know something about your origin.”

– “Let me ask you something, Pedro. What is your origin?”

– “I am of Spanish origin. My parents left Spain for America many years ago.”

– “And how does that make you feel?”

– “I’ve never asked myself that. But now, on reflection… It makes me feel satisfied because I think it is a good race. The Spaniards are very Christian, they are good people, but they also have their things, like everyone else.”

– “Are you saying that you think that someone is the way he is because of being a part of an ethnic group or something like that and not because of what he is in each moment of his life? For what he has achieved with his own effort and energy?”

– “Well, that too.” said Pedro hesitantly. And he added, “Moreover, I am an artist, father of a family, a Chilean and a fan of ColoColo, my favourite football team.”

– “Is there nothing else in your life that characterizes you more individually?”, insisted Juan.

– “What’s the use of identifying myself with myself? The important thing is to be a part of a human group that makes me feel respectable.”