Recently I’ve seen multiple examples of how identifying ourselves with a group causes us to separate ourselves from those who are not members of that group, including this video and this podcast episode. We separate ourselves from our neighbor with our religion, political party, and even the cars we drive (or the cars we don’t drive if we’re part of the biking community.) This separation is necessary to strengthen our bonds with the communities we are a part of – part of belonging to them means that you don’t belong to others.
I’m writing about this tonight because I read a blog post from a local city council person with one point that just didn’t sit right with me. He proposed a “neighborhood/district identity initiative” which involves naming, branding, and creating identities for our neighborhoods. To me this feels like just another way to separate ourselves. Yes, we’ll come together with our immediate neighbors but at what expense to our relationship with our neighbors across the city? I don’t want separation from either. I want to emphasize the things we have in common and set aside the minor differences. I definitely don’t want to add another difference just for the sake of it.
Group identities can bring us together and tear us apart. I don’t want to bring together my neighborhood at the expense of my city. We’re all Dentonites, we don’t need more than that.