a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Don’t show me your identity, please: Tony Judt

Posted on the March 1st, 2010

As if putting a message in a bottle and rather sadly tossing it into the sea, or so it felt to me, Tony Judt has written an illuminating essay for the New York Review of Books blog. He analyzes the dangerous attachment so many have to their various identities – religious, political, ethnic, national, for example.

Excerpt: (“Edge People” Feb 23, 2010)

…I believe I can understand and even empathize with those who know what it means to love a country. I don’t regard such sentiments as incomprehensible; I just don’t share them. But over the years these fierce unconditional loyalties—to a country, a God, an idea, or a man—have come to terrify me. The thin veneer of civilization rests upon what may well be an illusory faith in our common humanity. But illusory or not, we would do well to cling to it. Certainly, it is that faith—and the constraints it places upon human misbehavior—that is the first to go in times of war or civil unrest.

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