The moment ‘WE’ replaces ‘I’: The convergence of two identities

The number of letters increases from one to two besides the change in letters itself. The first person pronoun becomes plural from singular. The change in identity and the composition of the entity changes significantly the moment ‘WE‘ replaces ‘I‘ – it transcends integer and grammar.

An infant undergoes different stages of growth – toddler, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and gradually attains old age. The different stages of growth vis-a-vis the transition from one stage to another means a different role at different stages of life. Besides this, the interaction with the bigger world – the community and its institutions require critical examination, inter alia, the status of sovereign self in ‘I‘ as it integrates as a member into the interdependent community in ‘WE‘.

As a kid in play grounds, a student in classrooms, a participant in programmes, I felt comfortable in whatever stand I took because I was identified singly as Dechen Rabgyal, the sovereign self – unconcerned, unbothered, irresponsible and self driven. The moment I am identified with my community- Mongar (birthplace), Sherubtse College (student), Bhutan (citizen and civil servant), the concepts and claims of rights, privileges and responsibilities come attached.

I could go in the wild and take berries in Drepung, Mongar; participate in the Erasmus Mundus Exchange Programme in Bilbao, Spain; and, attend the training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia not because I am Dechen Rabgyal but because I am from Mongar, student at Sherubtse College and a Civil Servant, respectively. Privileges derived by being member to the community! Some would claim these as rights. Have sovereign self in Dechen Rabgyal become obsolete then?

Community as an institution consists of different people, culture, ideas and, at first, conflicting aspirations. Through compromise, they reach to a consensus where common goal is agreed – collective concerted effort the means to attain it. With individuals making community, the identity of sovereign self continues to exist but with lesser influence as it had to compromise certain interest to reach a common ground – the collective well-being.

For the privileges enjoyed or rights exercised, a sovereign self is under obligation to perform certain duties. Sovereign is not absolute! The self must know societal norms (collective will) in pursuit of aspirations (collective interest) and act accordance with it. Every right has corresponding duty!

The moment I use ‘WE‘ instead of ‘I‘, it is Mongar, Sherubtse and Bhutan respectively which assume the central stage; Dechen Rabgyal is secondary, even irrelevant. The change in pronouns should come about with opinions and positions based on reason and research because you can fail and misrepresent for yourself but not for the community, institution and country you represent.

Miles to cover before I work out on the change in integer and grammar!

Dechen Rabgyal

I am from Drepung, Mongar, Bhutan.