faith, Identity, musings, youth

What’s In A Name?

Identity – we all crave it. We are all looking to align ourselves with someone or something that will give us purpose and meaning. Every generation searches for identity. That search creates fads, clothing trends, music and art. A generation gap always exists between the young searching for their identity and the parent generation who think they have found theirs.

The expression of youth to establish its own identity often takes the form of looking different than the parent generation. Long hair, short hair, no hair, it all is seen as a statement of identity. The 1950s and early 60s saw beards, goatees, and tattered sweatshirts as a statement for the “beatniks.” Music was acoustic with a strong simple percussion. Art was abstract. In the middle 1960s and early 70s long hair was considered a statement of difference against the “short hair establishment.” Multicolored clothes, short skirts, long skirts, beads, and flowers were all statements to clarify this identity. Music was rock and roll with a statement. Folk music was making political overtones to the “Establishment” to get their act together. Art had become a political statement as well. The turn of a new century has shown once again there are no exceptions to the search for identity where dress is concerned. Pierced body parts are the trend now, as well as tattoos, baggy clothes and a color scheme that has moved from the rainbow to a dominant shade of black. Music is now a vast variety of sounds; from heavy metal to the misunderstood rap sound. Art has taken new forms with the advancement of the computer. All this has certainly given each parent generation a common catch phrase, “What is happening to our young people?”

In the 1960s and 70s there was a big movement among the youth of the day to “go and find themselves.” It was kind of a catchy phrase tossed about in an abstract way by some souls. But there were many out there who had become disillusioned by the present way of life. Searching for identity will always get a reaction. The free spirits of the “hippie generation” who were tired of the so called “establishment” way of life decided they didn’t want any part of present society, so they moved out to wide open spaces and started communes. Their ideology was based on a back to nature, share the land, and one with the cosmos mentality. What eventually happened was, even this so called “communal lifestyle” had its pit falls, and most returned to civilization to find their new happiness going into business and become quite successful entrepreneurs. The contrast is striking. What once was considered “anti-establishment” became the “norm.”

The Cambridge Dictionary defines identity this way: who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others.

Identity and character seem to go hand in hand. I once heard that character is what you are when no one is looking. When you work alone are you going about your task the same way you go about them when your co-workers are around? Or, do you simply sluff off, slow down to a snail’s pace and skate through your time? Perception is everything. We align ourselves with what people believe or what we want people to think we believe.

Identity is little more than what we believe or who we believe in; what moral principles we hold to, if any. Man was given the free will to choose his own destiny. To align himself with the principles and commandments ordained by God or to simply ignore those guidelines and choose a different path, a path that Lucifer chose millennia before.

In my early years at college, I heard someone say that religion was man’s search for God, but Christianity was God’s search for man. A definite contrast to the world view of man. Christianity could be summed up as what you do or believe when no one’s looking. When people look at us Christians, will they, like the early Romans, be able to tell who we are by our lifestyle and actions? Or do we have to wear a tee-shirt that espouses our beliefs? Can we simply ignore the fact that being a Christian is being Christlike? Christianity is not a religion or a view. Christianity is Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Redeemer of mankind, the Risen Lord. Anything less is just window dressing and silkscreened paint on a 100% cotton tee.

—excerpt from Stop & Smell the Coffee © Steven C. Macon

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