I am an Arab
Identity has been a huge issue for me growing up. With many “cultural camps” surrounding me, each trying to pull me to its path, I came to my own personal solution.
What makes you an Arab (or any other culture)?
I have what I call the “Opinion Theory”. You are an Arab if you have opinions -negative or positive – about everything Arab. Hummus, kibbeh, Myriam Fares, dabkehs, argeelehs, Palestine… If those words invoke a reaction inside you, then by my theory you are pretty much one of us. You might hate shawerma, or you might not stand two minutes of Fairouz, but just by having experienced this world enough, with its tastes, sounds and soul, part of you has become one with us.
To me, that sounds more logical than the descendants theory: being the son of an Arab doesn’t make you one any more than having a religious father gets you the blessings. Plus over 90% of us aren’t descended from the ancient Arabian tribes anyways.
Here’s the catch in my theory, I’m also a full-blooded Armenian. I have all the cultural experiences of being one checked, and I’d take great offense if someone implied that I’m not one. But can I have two identities at the same time?
To anyone who tries to pigeonhole me I answer, why the hell not! To speak conservatively I’m 99% Arab and 99% Armenian. Come to think of it, I’m also 15% British 2% Turkish 0.8% Japanese and 0.6% French (I like pattiserie).
You see, culture is something dynamic. You pick up what you can, hope to pass on some of it to your kids, what you find most important. It’s those little “idea genes”, the ones Dawkins coined memes, passing back and forth, evolving, getting extinct, going viral.
Your “heritage” is to collect and cherish those memes you love, build on them, so that your culture may prosper…