We live in a country where race is a dichotomy and people are literally separated into categories of black and white -- but human identities are not that simple. When speaking about my own racial identity, it is impossible not to also talk about my ethnic identity.
I've called myself other titles, masking that my income comes from the life insurance industry. There are multiple reasons why my lifetime occupation became a semi-hidden secret. The industry itself went through the same kind of identity crisis.
We can create ideas, innovate, and become competitive in a shorter time than ever before. The world is a collection of unlimited wealth and resources; the question is how we make those resources relevant to who we are. The more we have, the more we can give.
Identity is that collection of attributes that defines how we see ourselves. It is the answer to the question: Who am I? Anyone who has ever seriously asked themselves that question may have found that the answer is not as obvious as one might think it should be.
It is tempting to think of the self as simply a home for the identities we adopt over our lifetime, but on reflection, this, too, falls short. Our self is also the source of the identities that sally forth as our proxies.
In a flash, days turn into years, and years into half an expected life span. Too easily, we become separated from our own true nature. Overly-vigilant and responsive to the rapidity of external demands coming at us 24/7, we lose track of who we are internally. Our lives shrink.
One of the most powerful ways in which popular culture and technology are altering the way in which self-identity is established in children is through the shift from being internally to externally driven.
In not knowing, just for a moment, you can directly discover yourself. This discovery does not arrive by thought, but by your own immediate direct experience. What is here, before every thought, after every thought and during every thought?
To truly exercise our most sacred ideals of "life and liberty" we must first be responsible to internally lay hold of who we are and not constantly live to appease other people's expectations or reactions of us.
Imagine yourself purely as a self, with no body. Who would you be? Would you really define yourself by the same standards by which you are now defined? What kind of person would you get to be if you didn't have to worry about gender or race or sexuality?
Whether a person's "identities" can be dissociated or not, it's clear from Hans' story that certain aspects of a mind can become somehow "out of step" from one another. And that's essentially what neuroscientists think is happening in a schizophrenic person's brain.
The damaging and far-reaching emotional/spiritual consequences of our narcissistic obsession with the self is hardly examined; there is no distinction between practices that fortify the ego and those that weaken it.