First and foremost, we are each a human being. Then we are a sex, a gender, a sexual orientation, an age, a cultural expression, a race, an ethnicity, a linguistic participant, an economic class, a nationality, a religious affiliation, a personality type, an educational level, a health condition or a political persuasion, and so on. Beyond and deeper than these broad and sometimes superficial categories of identity, we each fashion a complex and unique self-narrative and image that is ours alone.
Our news commentators and some of the public are excited these days about questions of who is a women and who is Black, what is a woman and what does it mean to be Black. But they are missing a fundamental point. We are all human beings who suffer and desire happiness and the relief of our suffering. Yet in our societies we use identity to include or to exclude and to promote or to punish. Identity becomes a social construct, a mass perception and a device of power and control.
The irony is that at the deepest level there is no separate, static self at all but only ontological interdependence, impermanence and mutual causality. I am because you are. You are because I am. We are all the same and yet we are each different. We each change continuously. We encounter this mystery of life and death together. We each suffer and we can help relieve each other’s suffering. Kindness and understanding are all that is called for.
Can we not find our way simply to know, do and be these two responses to each and every living being? For isn't the only lasting "identity" found in values embodied and actions taken?