As we learn about ourselves and one another through talking and listening and being together, we find that our stories shape our values and our actions. At the same time, they don’t have to be determinative: Our stories don’t tell us we have to have certain values, or behave in certain ways.
If we take this idea seriously, then it should lead us to a sense of humility: We can’t predict what someone will do, and they can’t assume they know us before they’ve heard our story. To do either would reflect arrogance.
In recent years, our society, and our college campuses, have been infused by an approach to identity politics that, in my view anyway, seems to be struggling with this tension of humility and arrogance. At its best, the movement to appreciate each other’s stories, to learn about one another’s backgrounds, to discover one another more fully, leads to curiosity, a capacity to make room for each other, and greater trust between people. At its worst, identity politics can shut down conversation, lead to othering and exclusion, and degrade the trust on which communities depend.
Rabbi Josh Feigelson, “What If We Renamed Identity Politics, ‘Humility Politics?’”, LinkedIn
(June 17, 2016) [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-we-renamed-identity-politics-humility-josh-feigelson]