A shared identity brings people together as they feel they feel a sense of belonging. People can have a shared identity through language. For instance, in the United States most people speak English. Those who support English Only bill argue that it will help bring cohesion as people speak one language.
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They ask, “will America if it continues on its traditional path of benign linguist neglect, go the way of Belgium, Canada and Sri Lanka-three countries among many whose unity is gravely imperiled by language and ethnic conflicts” (King 437)? Therefore, having shared identity is a good goal as far as individuals are not forced to abandon their individuality.
Having a shared goal is a good goal because it can help foster nationalism. Through a shared language people form an identity, and in a country they feel a sense of nationalism. For example, in Italy unification came through speaking of a similar language as in Germany. In other instances, people in a country may not share the same language, but they tolerate and embrace each other’s differences. For example, in Switzerland there are four official languages.
The people get along well and there is no strife because of the different languages. A strong national identity brings the citizens together. The people “… share something big and almost mystical that holds each together in a union transcending language. That something I call unique otherness” (King 442). This is beneficial to the country as it enjoys peace and harmony. Besides, the diversity of the people creates a beautiful oneness and every person feels a sense of belong and pride in their country.
The drawbacks of having a shared identify goal is the danger of animosity towards anyone considered different. In countries that value one language above the others may force all its citizens to speak the preferred language. That favoritism of one language may lead to ethnic wars.
For instance, in other countries such as Canada where people speak different languages for example English and French there is ethnic strive hence lack of a strong nationalism. In Moldova in 1995, protests erupted over the language to be used in teaching the Moldovan history (King 440). Some use language to demand for separation from a country, and it leads to loss of life in wars. Therefore, the quest for a shared identity can become a source of strife and division in a country.
The goal of a shared identity can lead some people to fail at national integration, and lead to discrimination. Foreigners in a country may fail to integrate, and live normal lives because they feel they are different and unwanted in the host community. Some may result to rebellion or trying to hard to fit in that it destroys their sense of identity. Some become hurt for being different and being discriminated against. For example, “Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry” (Hurston 419).
Some adults teach their children hate towards people from different backgrounds and races. For instance, a student in class said: “I cannot sit by her. My mom said I cannot sit by anyone who is brown” (Nguyen 464). Furthermore, those who do not share a common identity with the majority suffer as Nguyen says: “I have no way of telling what tortured me more: the actual snickers and remarks and watchfulness of my classmates, or my own imagination, conjuring disdain” (462).
Having a shared identity is only good as far as it is used positively to bring people together, despite their differences. The shared identity should foster a strong nationality instead of dividing and separating people. People are different, but they can live as one.
Hurston, Zora Neale. “How it feels to be colored me.” Ed. Andrea Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. 5th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.416-420. Print.
King, Robert. “Should English be the law?” Ed. Andrea Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. 5th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.434-443. Print.
Nguyen, Bich Minh. “The good immigrant student.” Ed. Andrea Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. 5th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.458-464. Print.