Thursday: Identity

Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon:


Using the brilliant Disney film ‘The Jungle Book’ this week, we’ve thought about following, anxiety and trust.  Today we look at identity.

The monkeys had kidnapped Mowgli and taken him to their leader, the orangutan King Louie, who wanted the power of fire that humans had.  

He sings, “I wanna be like you, I want to walk like you, talk like you, …”


Human beings learn by copying others.

It’s as if we copy others in order that we become ourselves.

So while we maintain our unique identity; to reach it, we need community.  We need others.


We all have heroes that we try, or at least, have tried to imitate.

Pop stars, TV shows, footballers.

A typical goal of some might be to emulate those who are rich and famous.

Riches and fame become the goal of existence, but this does not guarantee human flourishing.


King Louie the monkey, wanted to be like Mowgli, the human, because he wanted fire.

Fire is the primitive form of technology.

To want fire is to want power.  To have technology is to be powerful.

So if fame and wealth are not the goal, is power?  Hardly.


Look at the functioning democracies of the world and see what checks and balances we have in place to guard against misusing and abusing power.

This is a healthy development in governance because it tells us something about ourselves:   

that we know what we are capable of given half a chance.


Wealth, fame and power are not the goal of humanity.

The Judeo-Christian tradition gives an elevated status for humanity:  we are made in God’s image.

That means God made us, and we are made for him, to enjoy him.

Over 1500 years ago, the planet- brained theologian St Augustine famously said of humanity:  

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”


When the wrong things are sought after, wrong things tend to happen.  

“People are blinded by their desires” writes psychologist Jordan Peterson in his bestseller ‘12 Rules for Life’, before adding, “Lies warp the structure of Being.”


In the Bible we see God’s way of calling us all back to him, that’s why Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


The Medieval scholar St. Anselm prayed, “Lord, let me seek you in desiring you, and desire you in seeking you; find you in loving you, and love you in finding you.”  

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