Identity and Fear


Helen Chauncey

The Coexistence Initiative

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: Fear is also a problem because identity is so fundamental to what all of are, that if I come to you, you represent Clan A and I represent Clan B. If I either come to you as an outsider or if I come to you from another clan, particularly if I'm more powerful than you are, and I say, "You know we're going to get along, we're going to coexist," you would have every reason if that's all I said to be afraid, to be afraid that what I really mean is we're going to coexist and the identity of my clan is going to more or less dictate values, social practices and so on.

Q: "We're going to coexist under my conditions?"

A: Exactly, "coexist under my conditions." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights talks about being free from fear, particularly in the context of basic needs. One of our challenges is to encourage the people we are serving, the people we learn from to be free from fear that their identity will be attacked. So that's another challenge.