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The Importance of Cultural and Biological Aspects Influencing Identity

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The Importance of Cultural and Biological Aspects Influencing Identity

Many of us struggle with the complex idea of our identity. Some have a better grasp on it then others, but for the most part everyone, at one point in time, wrestles with this issue and tries to understand who they are and exactly where they fit in this world. Is our identity defined biologically by our genes, all wrapped up in a nice package of tightly coiled DNA? Or is it our cultural surroundings in which we choose to define ourselves, such as by our religion, race, or nationality. The issue of identity is a continuous debate about whether our biological or cultural identity is more important in this crucial definition of ourselves. Although I believe that many factors from both the biological and cultural aspects are important to our identity, it is the cultural portion that plays the most prominent role.

As described by Burgess (2001), culture is represented by the practices and assumptions that are at the root of a group's everyday activities, and is typically heterogeneous and constantly evolving. It is this group in which we 'identify' ourselves with and grow up learning the values, morals, and traditions. These are the people who accept us and embrace us with love and concern, which is crucial for human beings to have in order to live a happy life (Hagerty, Lynch-Sauer, Patusky, Bouwsema, & Collier, 1992). As we grow up our culture teaches us how and what to think which is of the upmost importance as this is the basic knowledge from which we grow. This knowledge and way of thinking then helps us to form our identity. So it is the people and environment in which we surround ourselves that help to mold us into who we are today.

Culture is not to be given all the credit for our identity though, because our personality and many other factors play an important role in our development. A person's DNA is an inner code of the body that links identity to creation (Zoloth, 2003). Personality also plays a role in how we think and behave, and our genes are a major contributor to this process. Not to mention that certain society's, such as the Jewish community, look very closely at genetic makeup. They do not try to criticize those who convert, which is made to be a difficult process of itself, but they do acknowledge the genetic link from the descendents of Abraham as perhaps being a more pure and admired form (Zoloth, 2003). Shriver (2004) also states that personal genetic histories can used as evidence to reclaim history, culture and knowledge that may be denied to some individuals.

The famous argument of nature vs. nurture is a great example of how the world is now seeing this debate. It is not just black or white but a mixture of hues, instead of nature vs. nurture it is nature and nurture. So when it comes to trying to figure out one's own identity, both of these

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