Javante C. Sheffield
English Writing Prompt
June 27, 2013
My understanding of Amin Maalouf’s concept on identity is that human identity is based on an individual’s environment. He defines identity into two categories. One that is inherited through our elders and cultural beliefs “vertical”, and another that exist according to our generational influence, “horizontal”. The two categories create our identity as a human and is the source of our behavior. My experience with the vertical heritage is my belief in Christianity. My ancestors and the community I was raised in have traditionally taught me to celebrate religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. I also grew up in a small neighborhood with Christian peers. They have influenced the way I behave and interact by helping to shape my morals. My experience with the “horizontal” is the communities I have been introduced to, such as, the public and private school environments. They have broadened my personality with their social aspects.
One example of what Maalouf is saying is my switch from public to private school. My personality was much different in public school than it was in private. In my public school the social standard for academic progress was average. The fact that there was no assigned dress code distracted me because I would attempt to impress others with my appearance. This influenced my train of thought, behavior and ultimately my identity, until I was placed into a different setting. When I made the switch to private school the distraction of looking different was taken away, and expectations were higher. My surrounding influenced me again and I became more focused on things that mattered and more questionable of my beliefs. What I gained from both these settings was my horizontal inheritance. For example, the music that I listen to and the hobbies I enjoy.
Maalouf’s point is that no matter your vertical, your horizontal has a bigger affect on your...
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