The Characteristics Of Identity : Identity, Identity And Cultures

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Identity is an internalized force existing deep in the folds and crevices of the mind and manifested externally through a myriad of appearances, actions, behaviors, and ideologies. The components that define an individual are numerous, interwoven, and developed within a complex yet porous and pliable framework. Language, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, experiences, culture, personality, religion, and even the perceptions of others are just a few characteristics that help to shape and reshape how individuals and groups view themselves and their place within the world. As mentioned above, religion, or its absence, is a crucial aspect of identity. For hundreds of years the indigenous people across Southeast Asia practiced forms…show more content…
The Burmese government also aggressively attempted to convert outlying groups to Buddhism, but like the Thais, had minimal success. Much of the failure in these cases can be attributed to the indigenous minority people who perceived conversion to the religion of the majority as a dilution of their culture and a loss of their unique identity. In most cases it seems that a balance is struck between the benefits of being a formal adherent to a major religion and choosing the religion that is less likely to absorb or undermine the identity of a minority culture. For example, in Malaysia to truly be Malay one needs to be a Muslim. For the Karen in Thailand, the choice is less obvious. Selecting Buddhism would elevate their status slightly within the country, include them in the national identity, and allow them to maintain their traditions and ethnic identity. Christianity, on the other hand, is also a beneficial choice that would expand their status beyond Thailand’s borders, but do little to connect them to the majority of the Thais. Christianity is also generally more stringent about devotion to doctrine than Buddhism and thus potentially damaging to their group identity. Choices like these were weighed and pondered across Southeast Asia with a variety of outcomes. Religion, for all its power to unite,
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