Lately I’ve been seeing numerous conversations and discussions about identity. There’s sexual identity, gender identity, racial identity, political identity, religious identity, ethnic and cultural identity, the list goes on and on. I’ve observed that in our society and our culture, people claim one or more identities and cling to them as if it was a matter of life or death. People are also quite fond of attaching identities (valid or not) to others and holding tightly to those perceptions.
There is nothing wrong with identifying with those aspects that make you unique or part of something greater. The problem is when we are attached to these identities and they get in the way our humanity, our compassion, and our interconnectedness. We get so hung up on our identities and our differences that we become exclusively focused our our separateness and lose sight of the fact that we are all one, that we are all human beings with much more in common than in what separates us.
These identities we attach to ourselves and others are all illusions and distractions that prevent us from facing our fears and moving forward with our evolution. To quote Ram Dass, “In most of our relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring each other that our costumes of identity are on straight.” There are occasions when wearing an identity is appropriate but sometimes you need to strip it off, shake off the accumulated dust, mend the holes in it, and see if it still fits. Like any costume, we outgrow or wear out our costumes. Maybe we need to put our costumes away and just be naked.