American politics suffers from an all-or-nothing approach with regards to identity. Some will say that your identity gives you an immutable set of characteristics. You are, for example, to be held responsible for the crimes of your ancestors, even if you do not identify with them. If you embrace the attributes of another identity, it is said to be appropriation because that identity is not biologically yours. You are allowed your space, but no more than that. You are the sum of your components.

Another side would say that identity does not exist in any real sense, that it has no meaning. It would not matter, they would say, that you were born tall woman from France, as opposed to a short man from Nigeria. You are equally capable in all things. Some people can hold both views simultaneously, which is rather interesting from a sociological perspective.

The truth of the matter is humans possess a certain biological momentum. We might call this talent or innate characteristics. But whatever you call it, it is a fixed thing. You are born with so much of this or that.

But humans, as sentient beings, are capable of expending effort and bending those characteristics through force of will. If you’ve ever seen the movie Gattaca, you can understand how this is simultaneously incredibly difficult to do and yet immensely powerful. It may be the most important aspect of being human, as opposed to being an animal which has no potential to mold itself.

For a human being, self-change is incredibly difficult but possible. You are not the sum of your components, you are not your birth traits. But do not delude yourself, either. Self-change requires an internal expenditure of effort that is exceptional.

The outside world possesses a lever with which to move you. It is an unpleasant truth that Media, Culture, Money and Peer Pressure can more easily move a man than he may move himself. So the first step in self-change is to divorce yourself from those things and their influences upon you, to the greatest extent possible.

Once done, then you may endeavor to move yourself, of your own will. It will not be easy, it is a battle which will not end until you die, but it is possible and quite rewarding.

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