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Who are you? Where do you belong? Have you ever thought why you look similar or different to other members of your family? Like, why do you have brown hair and your brother has red hair? Ahn Do is a refugee from Vietnam and Saroo Brierley is an orphan from India who was adopted by an Australian family. What do these two men have in common? Well, the both go through a traumatic journey to discover who they truly are and where they really belong.
Both men have overcome the adversity in their lives to discover their true identity and the real meaning the human condition. Identity is a key stepping stone on the way to becoming a unique person and is vital in forming a sense of self. This is commonly referred to as the human condition. Sometimes in order to find yourself, you must first be lost. This idea is usually referred to as adversity. Another part of forming the human condition is the presence of family and its importance on your development.
Like in the Avicii song water is sweet, but blood is thicker. These concepts are explored in the movie Lion and the autobiography The Happiest Refugee.
The concept of family has been around since the dawn of time when the first humans forming groups. When you belong to a family, there is nothing that can drag you apart, not distance, nor the march of time. This idea was heavily explored in Anh Do’s inspirational autobiography, The Happiest Refugee. In his moving words, he tells you about the journey that he takes with his family, all risking their lives in a rickety boat, with hope that Australia might provide not only a safe haven but opportunities to be successful. For his parents to make the decision and then to go through with the journey must have been one of the hardest decisions they would ever have to make. The risk of death was hanging over their heads with every wave that hit their wooden vessel. The family bonds between parents, parents and children and brother to brother were tested on a daily basis. This would not only be a help once they landed in Australia, but also a hindrance.
The pressure of being in a new country, without family support and a language barrier would prove to be difficult for some family members to overcome. As we have progressed over the centuries the amount of people that describe their family as one that is adoptive has grown exponentially. It is quite normal now for white parents to adopt coloured children and for coloured parents to adopt white children. This has a clear impact on the child’s future and the way they will see and experience the world. This adoptive family is a large part of Saroo’s upbringing as he was adopted by a Tasmanian couple. When Saroo boarded a train with his brother he would never dream that his life would turn out the way it did. Falling asleep on this train was both the biggest mistake and the best stroke of luck that impacted his life. The biggest mistake because he lost his family, but the best stroke of luck as his journey led him to Sue and John Brierley, who adopted him and removed him from a life of poverty. This had a great influence on his future as he started to forget where he was from and the language he spoke, not only was he adopted but he adopted the ways of his family’. He was provided with opportunities that his family in India would never have given him.
However, in the most devastating of twists, this caused him to forget his past and forget his identity.IdentityIdentity effectively asks the question who am I. But what happens when this is taken away from and the place you know, the people who are always around you are suddenly removed from your life? If you are brought up in a specific culture, like Saroo’s for example, family plays an important part and when you lose that, you question your very existence. Similarly, Ahn’s family was ripped away from him when they boarded the refugee boat. They lost one part of themselves that showed where they truly belonged. And when they arrived in Australia, they not only had to deal with a completely foreign culture, they had to mourn the loss of their true identity.
Obviously, this idea of identity is a key part of the human condition as it changes for each person as not every person is the same race or creed. One such example of this is from Anh Do’s book in which he details his early life and the race of his parents who are Vietnamese. His identity is that of Vietnamese. This concept of identity sometimes changes if you are separated from your original parents. This happened to Saroo when he was adopted. He learnt English and forgot his old language and because he was so young, he forgot where exactly he was from.It’s these differences that make up identity and the human condition, but these differences can also lead to struggles for some. They must face adversity.
The last and possibly the most important part of the human condition is adversity. It could be the most important due to the fact that it directly influences your future self directly. Depending on how you overcome the adversity will determine how you go about the same adversity again. Adversity can come from different things, it can come from situation or it can come from history. The adversity Ahn had to overcome was not only the perilous journey to Australia, but the discrimination he and his family faced when here. In those times many Australians were very open to refugees in their lives and treated them awfully as Ahn talks about in the book. This discrimination is felt in lion and the book it is based on as when Saroo was growing up he was subject to discrimination from other people. The human condition is made up of three parts; family, identity and adversity. These parts intertwine but are slightly different. The human condition changes for each person as no two people have the same family, identity or the same challenges. This concept is explicitly shown in The Happiest Refugee and Lion as they tackle the issues of identity and adversity.
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