...we each maintain a "hierarchy of identities" that rise and fall depending on whether a particular identity is threatened. When one of our identities is attacked, it becomes easy to perceive ourselves only as that identity, for how others see us can have a significant impact on how we see ourselves.

Jacqueline Novogratz, Manifesto for a Moral Revolution


Definition of heretic

  1. religion: a person who differs in opinion from established religious dogma
    especially: a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who refuses to acknowledge or accept a revealed truth
    The church regards them as heretics.
  2. : one who differs in opinion from an accepted belief or doctrine : nonconformist
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Definition of iconoclast

  1. : a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions
  2. : a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The term heretic has traditionally been used in reference to the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). However, so many aspects of American culture have taken on the aspects of religion - sports, politics, whether pineapple belongs on pizza - that I feel heretic is an appropriate label for any cultural dissenter.

According to Merriam-Webster an iconoclast attacks belief. I consider myself less of an attacker, and more of a challenger. I will ask a lot of "why" questions around belief. It is my experience that many people have not actually thought about what they believe or why. I find this lack of self-awareness as appalling as some of the beliefs that are held.

I have had both labels applied to me over the years, and I am really not ashamed of them. My childhood had the unexpected side effect of setting me outside of American culture. It was very easy for me see cultural beliefs and question them. I had other cultures to compare against.

As our culture becomes more and more turbulent, I feel it is part of my calling to continue to call into question "sacred" cultural beliefs. Mostly because the United States is not a homogenous culture. To continue to believe it is and behave as though it is will only bring more strife.

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