What Is A Malcontent Humanist? cover image

What Is A Malcontent Humanist?

I’ve struggled my entire life to understand who I am and to know my role here amongst humanity. As a therapist, I often guide people through the process of identity development. I help patients and clients navigate the parts about themselves they like, the parts they dislike and facilitate their identification of characterological elements that transcend various identities they navigate or embrace. I help them identify skills and traits that cross their various roles and identities to develop an awareness and comprehension of their authentic self.

When a person identifies a characterological trait, kindness for example, regardless of what identity or role they are fulfilling, they can use this trait as the common thread to prevent themselves from losing themselves.

Using myself as an example, I have identified the trait of passion as something that exists in all the different identities and roles I embrace. Whether I am facilitating a corporate culture restructuring, helping patients endure hardships, conducting sensitive research, worshiping, parenting, playing, or taking on the role of social equity warrior… passion is present.

These roles require behaviors ranging from meekness to renegade. Because of the great diversity of roles, it would be easy to forget who I am while performing the part I must play. Because I’ve developed an awareness that passion is a characterological trait I possess and desire, I’m incapable of forgetting my identity as a passionate person, and I’m able to confidently bring passion into my roles and responsibilities.

What Are Identities And Roles?

For clarity, let’s talk about what identities and roles are. Identities are who we know ourselves to be. Roles are the responsibilities and activities we engage in.

I Am A ______________ = Identity

I Have To ______________ = Role

Another personal example: I am consumed by music. I wake up to music, and I fall asleep to music. I write music nearly every day, and I study the evolution of music. I research the healing effects of music and I require music to complete even the most mundane tasks. I am humbled by the way in which music can describe the cosmos. I am a musician. That is an identity I embrace. There are times when I produce music for a cause or purpose. A music producer is a role I engage in.

We All Have Multiple Identities And Roles

Think of the factory line worker who must comply with every order, rule, and direction. Their role and identity are nonautonomous. When they are home, they are the decision-maker, head-of-household. It’s a fundamentally different identity and role.

Think of the young mother who must be present with a child, offering nurturing affection and attentiveness. This woman also runs a company of 75 people where profit, sales, and a workaholic mindset are rewarded. Her identities are mother and CEO. Her roles are nurturing and rearing and driving production.

The dance between identities and roles is daunting until we become aware of who we are, who we want to be, and have taken steps to construct an identity that can take on various roles. It’s the sentiment driving Socrates’ statement, "The unexamined life is not worth living." As we examine ourselves and become more aware, we can better ourselves into an individual with a solidified and intentional identity, and become more capable of remaining true to ourselves regardless of our roles.

The Malcontent Humanist

My identity continues to develop, refine and strengthen the more I explore myself, my strengths, talents, my emotional/behavioral traits, and as I gain more life experience. I am always in pursuit of the best descriptors of who I am, as it becomes the touchstone I return to in times of hardship or struggle.

Malcontent. I love this word. I am chronically dissatisfied. Discontentment is the force that causes me to engage in self-improvement, community improvement, and the improvement of our species. I cannot sit still when I see inequity. When an individual or swath of humanity hurts because of marginalization, ignorance, hate, racism, prejudice, or any other form of dehumanization, I get to work.

I have been blessed with privilege that allows me to persist outside most social mores. When an individual doesn’t have to worry about being fired, losing family, or losing friends, opportunities open themselves to get to work and to engage in the service of our humankind. I am malcontent, and I use this force to drive me towards improving the situations of all those in need.

Humanist. "An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems."

My understanding of this term is different from the standardized definition, as I am incapable of removing the divine, faith, and belief from my interpretation of the term. I am a humanist because I believe, as C.S. Lewis did, that we are all divine by birth and heirs to the eternities. "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." Humans are awesome.

I believe in our species. I believe humans are a manifestation of the divine. I believe that inside each of us, even those with the greatest burdens or hardest hearts is the power to perform miracles. I believe it’s in our capacity as humans to rid the world of hate. I believe it’s in our capacity as humans to ensure nobody goes hungry, homeless, or without human connection.

I believe we have within us the power to change hearts, change minds and change the world into a place where all are equal, celebrated, loved, and looked after. Not only do we have the power, but we also have the responsibility to aid our fellow humans and advance our species.

I identify as a Malcontent Humanist because there is a lot wrong in the world, and it is my calling as a human and child of God to make it better. There is too much of everything that is wrong and not enough of what is right. It is part of my identity to be the person engaged in the battle to right the wrongs and to call upon my fellow humans to join me in that fight.

Countless organizations are sitting on mountains of money. That wealth could end homelessness, tomorrow. Instead, villains continue to amass wealth into their war chests. As long as there are those who serve themselves before our species, I will remain malcontent.

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