Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Identity is where the Heart is

This is my friend, ERIC. He told me the story of the tattoo.

When he was little in Burma, grandpa told him that he is a Taiwanese and he should go to Taiwan to strive for a better life. However, the people in Taiwan saw him as a Burmese or even just someone from somewhere else out of Taiwan. As for the people back to his home town, they still called him “Chinese.”

What's his identity? Who is he? Who are we?

In the end, he was determined to identify himself as a Burmese who belongs to where he grew up. Thus, he tattooed his name spelled in Burmese to remind him of his identity. Eric is dear to me, because we share the same sort of struggle. “Home is where the heart is.” We have spent couple years wondering about our own identities, the real “home.”

The pictures of our motherlands are vague and confusing. We both learned lots of knowledge of some where we have never been to, the so-called “Great China.” However, the place we grew up, the language we have been speaking since we were born, the cultures and political ideas that we believe in, and the value of human rights –all have framed our emotional attachment to the ideal of our identities.

Eric found his own identity and now he sticks to it and fights for it. For a long period of time, his motherland, Burma, has been suffering from tyranny. He chooses to stand up for democracy and human rights with no fear, and I honor him for his strong will in making his motherland be what he wants. Furthermore, I question myself, what have I done for the place my heart is—Taiwan?
Taiwan, my motherland, is the place I have lived for over two decades. I have dreamed of having my own bright career, of exploring the world, of anything you can name it. But why haven’t I dreamt of having my own country until today? Only after the fleeting beauty of wrong illusion fades away would I find the real home I hastily seek. Finally, I dare to stand up and declare myself as a Taiwanese, while most of the countries avoid challenging the Great China. It is late, but I hope it is not too late.

“Everyone deserves the right of self-determination, no matter the person lives in the country which is recognized or not.”

What is identity? The ideas of recognitions, nations, cultures, and individuals are all interwoven with one and another in our mind and memory. But self-determination is not limited to those ideas. It is merely a human right and it should be tattooed on our heart, as a faith. The identity of being a Taiwanese is tattooed on my heart.

It is not easy, yet we persevere.

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