Are you a sum of the whole?
We are different; you and I. Yet, we are similar if not same. We have many identities as individuals and we play many roles. These identities and roles are situational. Let’s examine.
I am a father, a husband and a son. These are all labels or roles that I play. I live in Delhi, am a proud Indian and am a professional with background largely in marketing.
Let us, for the sake of simplicity, describe me with the help of 3 labels. Urban, Indian and Professional. As anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with “set theory” knows, each of these labels are actually sets of people. So, I fall in the “intersection” of the three sets. So would say the conventional theorists.
I would argue that this is the thinking that is the bane of our society. With every additional label, we “belong” to smaller and smaller groups by virtue of identifying with smaller subsets and allow ourselves behaviour that is “allowed” by every group. But, if you think that with the addition of every new label, your horizon expands and you are able to experience new things, appreciate different points of view and learn more things then you will add more colour to your life and broaden your outlook. Your life will be richer for the experience. So, think of “union” of sets rather than “intersection”. That is perhaps the “rainbow coalition” that at least in theory the South Africans strive to build in their country. This is the true meaning of “Vasudha eva kutumbakam”: I am related to the larger world.