For every person that is currently alive on this planet there are an equal number of identities specific to those people. Good, bad, or indifferent, we develop an identity (either by parents/guardians or circumstances) as a result of simply being present, whether we actively choose to participate or not. And in this “being” our identity gains a voice, whether it be a whisper or a shout. Over time, similar identities begin to pool together and draw strength from one another. Point being, as time passes (and with influence both internal and external) the roots of this identity burrow deeply until one day….a day that comes and goes without warning…..you know nothing else. You ARE your identity and your identity is YOU, so intertwined that you feel as if you could not imagine being separated from it.
So, with this in mind, imagine the day where something so impactful happens that you can’t ignore it. It makes you question said identity to it’s very core. Every thing you’ve ever seen or heard, or even thought, now chips away at that identity and begins to erode the foundation, with no suitable replacement.
This is why change is so difficult. In society (today, it seems, more than ever), people have their respective identities and both hold them in place and protect them with the passionate shield of their emotions. And any challenge to that identity is viewed as an assault on their core humanity. When you look at it like that, is it any wonder that it seems like society is losing it’s collective mind right now?
But the reason I bring this up is because regardless of how “right” any particular stance might be (political, religious, it really doesn’t matter), if I hold a differing position, no amount of blustering or berating is going to change my mind. I see it as an attempt to take away my identity, my community. That on which I have built my entire humanity. The concept of “right” or “wrong” is neither here nor there in this discussion because it is subjective to the individual.
Imagine it like this, I spend my entire life building a house by my own hand. The foundation, the infrastructure, all of the components, whether “up to code” or not, are mine. I like my house. I like my community. One day, someone with a bullhorn comes into my neighborhood and says, “your house is messed up and doesn’t work for me” and tries to convince me (with either a sledgehammer, a flamethrower, or their words) that I would be better off in a different house, a different community. Before I even have time to agree or disagree, I have to hunker down in this house I’ve built for myself in my “community” (imperfect as it may be but perfect for me) and try to withstand the onslaught. Then it becomes simply about survival, not renovation or relocation. My gut instinct is to fight the opposition to the perceived threat. Basic survival brain, no higher functions.
So let’s dream a little further and imagine that the torch-wielder gives me an opportunity to come outside, unassaulted, and “see what they see.” I’m able to switch to my higher functions and when I get there, I realize, “wow, my house IS tore up from the floor up.” But the problem is, it’s the only place I’ve EVER known. So, damaged as it may be, I’d rather live in a dilapidated dump with other people than be homeless by myself, even at the expense of positive growth.
So when you’re out there, screaming at the top of your lungs because you’re convinced you’re right, don’t forget, that identity you’re trying to take away from somebody else may be the only one they have.