Every human being has his/her own identity, formed over the years, which reflects the people and things with whom we ourselves identify. Our earliest exposure to other humans who provide keys to our eventual identity is, of course, to our parents, and we use this identity predominantly in a positive way. As we age we tend to become, with no particular effort on our parts, more like our parents. Rarely, we strive consciously not to be like them. But while it is they who primarily point us in the direction of who we will eventually become, they are not the only influencing factors.
Unlike circumstances beyond our control which shape who we become, the things with which we identify are largely a matter of choice and not some little effort, conscious or subconscious. And we tend to identify with them because at some point and for some reason we wanted to emulate them.
The books we read, the music we listen to, all the things we identify with become parts of our own identity. Each is like the individual colors on an artist’s palette, and the portrait of who we are is created by them. The degree with which we identify with something creates the tones and shadings of our character.
Just a few of the many things with which I have always strongly identified include:
1) The gay community. I know that one’s sexual orientation is only a part of one’s identity, but being a gay man (starting out as a gay child) is so much of who I am I cannot separate it from any other aspect of my life. It colors every part of my existence. I so strongly identify myself as a gay man, I am sure, as an act of defiance to those who assume superiority over me because I am not like them.
2) Minorities and underdogs...as a direct result of #1 above, as long as they do not themselves advocate the oppression of others.
3) Truth, honor, beauty, dignity, loyalty, bravery and all those uniquely human qualities which separate us from other animals.
4) As a further extension of numbers 1 and 2 above, anyone with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities; the misfits, the misunderstood; all those who ache with the realization that their dreams will never come true and yet go on anyway, doing the best they can with what they have.
5) Children, probably because I have clung too tightly to my own concept of childhood and I see myself (I would hope with some degree of accuracy) in their wonder and trust and assumption that the world is full of good things.
6) Anyone who clings to hope in face of the hopeless.
I identify strongly with all these things even while being painfully aware of how very far short I fall of really possessing any of them. Though I do take some small comfort in the knowledge that I try. I am eternally the small boy standing on the curb waving a tiny flag as he watches the soldiers and firemen as the parade passes by, wanting so very much to be one of them when he grows up.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: