I don’t really think about it all that much, but identity is a massive component of our lives, or is it? The weird thing I find about it is that people often (including me) define their identity, like it’s their choice. However, I’m interested to explore it being held by others, in association… The landscape, politically, at the moment seems to be really focused on this and there are obvious reasons for it. One being, it’s a great way to confuse people and make them pick a side. I don’t want to delve into that too much because you can find commentary on it really anywhere on the internet. What I’d like to pursue and define is how we don’t really hold it within ourselves, in essence most people would agree it is what defines them, but how true is this?
What draws me to this topic is what we tell ourselves about who we are. A common phrase I notice is, ‘I tell it like it is.’ Like you chose to be that way and it’s a commendable trait. But I too often hear people back it up with, ‘Sorry, that’s just who I am.’ Like it excuses their behaviour. Well, does it? That kind of premise when meeting someone, especially for the first time, makes you feel you need to accept it and that there is no point in challenging it, because that’s just them and that’s part of their identity.
Sure, be proud of who you are and ‘tell it like it is’ if you so wish. But understand attacking that concept is not attacking you. Being honest and seeking the truth is all well and good, but who are you to say you are asking the right questions? And secondly, who says you’re right? I find this particularly troubling with people who have accumulated vast amounts of knowledge. And I know we should learn from these people. But I just don’t think it’s the best way to reach a sustainable, positive and contagious (largely positive) narrative.
I think we need to draw a distinction. There is an art to sharing ideas in a palatable format that doesn’t shit on those on the receiving end. And don’t get me wrong, challenging people is what you need to do at times. But what’s over the fence? What’s beyond yin and yang, black and white, the need for light and darkness, the need for an antagonist for good to conquer? Is there anything? Is this what everything comes back to? Is saying, ‘Sorry, that’s just who I am,’ a sufficient excuse to shit on others in the presence of others?
The way I’m looking at identity today is that it is held in others. Is that sufficient though? If there wasn’t some universal guiding force, and no I don’t necessarily mean a higher power, throwing ourselves back at our face (other people), would we have an identity? Is it the fact that we have so many people on this planet shaping and moulding us every moment of every day, purely by association, that really tells us who we are? Are we victims of circumstance that are not in control of who they are?
Well, the best thing about mental crossroads is we don’t have to choose. There is no remedy for conflicting points of view. We carry them with us and they bubble to the surface in varying degrees. We are the instruments and the musicians. So, I guess, without someone to bounce your identity off perhaps we should respect the observer enough to take the stance that without them we wouldn’t know who we are, and that identity shouldn’t get in the way of open dialogue.