A narrowing attachment to identity creates strife not just within an individual, but in society at large. In his book ‘Identity and Violence’, Amartya Sen argues that the more narrowly people ‘identify’ themselves by race, gender, status, religion, heritage or nationality, the more prone they will be to committing violence.
That makes sense when we understand ‘objective’ identifications as top-down phenomena: ideas about how one should be are imposed onto the self. This is already a form of violence in which idea dominates and silences being. When someone adopts a categorical standard for how a human should be, it becomes all too easy to turn that violence against others – even friends, neighbors or family members. I believe that the most dangerous people are those who feel their ideas about the Present more keenly than they feel the Present itself.”
~ Philip Shepherd