Specific to American politics, the last few years have been very tough on the identities of all Americans. As an African-American, I may perceive that it has been especially tough for people color. However, regardless of our cultural perspective, we all may be feeling like our culture alone is being singled out. It appears that the current political strategy has raised the stakes in a game known as identity politics. Pitting the feelings of one cultural group against another group of humans is a very popular and easy way to win support for anything. In the same way, the threat level was used to control public sentiment and manipulate perceptions about personal peace and safety after 9/11, the reporting of ethnic slurs float as headlines across our media. And like a group of children in a schoolyard, we continue to fall prey to its tactics watching a bully pick on the innocent all the while fearing that, that kind of attention is never focused in our direction.
So when asking the big and relevant questions concerning identity the key to the answer has to do with where we go for that answer? Many of us turn to an outside source like a mirror, family, culture, or religion to tells us who we are. Then there are those families, cultures, and religions that we do not belong that also make their opinion of who we are known to us and others. Please notice that these sources appear to come from outside of our being.
As humans, we all have individual traits that separate us from others in our various groupings. However, we all have one thing in common, and that is, we all use the title “I,” to describe ourself. As technology brings awareness of happenings and opinions from around the world, we develop a global consciousness concerning the opinions of others, and we allow those to shape our identity.
When one’s identity is no longer subject to outside opinion, tactics of identity politics go away. Thus, understanding our essential nature as spiritual beings allows us to see reality in its purest form. If we can grasp the infinite qualities of our existence, then we would understand that we cannot be threatened or harmed. Human consciousness is fundamental, revealing oneness with God and all creation. However, these truths fly in the face of some religious and cultural traditions. But at the root of these same cosmologies, often the peace and unity longed for, is ignored to foster hierarchical systems known as our social order.
As technology brings on global awareness it increases the tensions between the trends that want more equality and those that benefit when human culture continues to organize around economic, gender, and ethnic divisions. So how do we humans rise above these simple tactics of namecalling and other schoolyard strategies? How do we begin to see the truth of our identity and enjoy the immunity from outside threats and opinion?
First, we must be willing to change our personal beliefs about ourselves and others. Ultimately we must be ready to change our world view. Amazingly, we are eager to replace the software in our phones and computers, but we are unwilling to change the software of our being. Who is willing to live without a technology upgrade for the next 10 years? And yet, many of us are holding onto beliefs about ourselves and others that have origins older than 100 years.
Second, is the acknowledgment that human evolution is not complete. Our current social structure rests on the advancements and shortfalls of previous generations. As we spring forth from the unevolved creatures that existed during the days of black and white television and pre-transistor technology, we need to maintain a perspective that we humans are still evolving. 1950 was 70 years ago and the relationships between every human sub-category and social role has advanced. Therefore judging people based on traditional societal roles, rebels against human advancement.
We are fast becoming technologist about to embark on a journey side-by-side with Artificial Intelligence, and many of us are not willing to ask the deep questions concerning human identity. If the assumption is that traditional religious and cultural authority will continue to be the arbitrator of what is right, then we might as well bring on the apocalypse. Many of the minds in some of these religions and cultures groupings see no future existence on earth outside of the scriptural interpretation or imagination from many centuries gone bye. The sad truth is that many of us today feel lost and we have settled to become better versions of the human creatures of days gone bye. Even the social justice activist of today that fight for new visions of equality still rely on the tactics of 70+ years ago.
Only by understanding the truth of our being can we get off the merry-go-round of identity politics. So, how to do we find out what is fundamental and essential to our being? Using a piece of rope as an analogy, we must see the truth of its reality. Just realizing that the rope is not the snake does not keep us from mistaking the rope for a stick at a later time. We must see beyond what the rope is not and truly see its nature.
Overcoming a racial slur, gender or ethnic putdown will only happen when the truth of our identity is revealed. As long as we continue to allow others in this material world to define who we are, our lives will remain on the merry-go-round in the schoolyard. The ultimate security of our being rest in the knowledge of what we fundamentally are, and thus making us immune to the opinions of what others might mistake us for.
By the process of self-inquiry the answer of who am I is revealed. If we find that our identity is continually assaulted by reports in the news, then its time we get a hold on who we really are. Investigating more deeply the “I” of our being is not difficult. Here is a hint. About 6000 years ago, it was stated: “I am that I am.” Simply asking ourself and pondering the answer to that statement any human can begin to unlock their true identity and find out what all humans have in common with that statement?