You walk the streets and you see some stupid protesters, do-gooder activists, hippies, oh damn, whatever thing you can think of that makes you want to throw up. You sneer at that thing or person. You say to yourself, society is going to hell. You say to yourself, but I know better. You say to yourself, I know who I am.
And you walk the streets and think of yourself and fancy what you see. A man of integrity, a man with a firm set of values, a man who thinks for himself. You know stuff like:
- Homosexuality is a mental illness.
- Liberals suck and are dumb.
- Life is hard.
- (fill in whatever fits you)
So that’s you. That’s your identity. You know who you are, because you know what you believe. You think, therefore you are. And the thing that keeps you You is the strength to stand by your beliefs. Standing by your beliefs is a good thing, you heard it many times. Not giving in to people who want to manipulate you, change who you are.
You grew up in a culture that constantly wants to feed you its propaganda, constantly wants to control your life in every which way. You are smart, because you look through it. You know who you are.
But what made you you? When you were born, did you already carry all those opinions, beliefs and preferences? No? But now you do. And since you do, it means you are You. So does that mean that you were not You when you were born? That you had to grow up and mature into being You? Does it mean that when you were born, you were in fact, nobody? Nothing? An undefinable … thing? When you were a baby, did you think for yourself and stand by your beliefs? Did you think at all? If you did not think, did You exist? So the person you are now, You, developed over time. It came into existence out of nothing.
And if that is so, how did that process go? By what criteria did the infant, the non-entity, the living thing that was nothing, decide that it was indeed something, and what that something was?
When the infant had to choose which beliefs to adapt and make its own and make them into his identity, into You, what did he base this choice on? He could not have based it on preexisting beliefs, naturally, because there were none.
So is it unfair to say that the first building block, the first little lego stone of the belief system that now makes up You, was imposed on you or chosen simply because it was there and because there was nothing else to choose?
Did your parents give you a choice? Did they tell you to choose between “Fags are great individuals” and “Fags are degenerates”, tell you to choose before you even had developer the linguistic capabilities of understanding what that means – if it means anything at all?
And if one of those beliefs you carry sounds like home, like yourself, if you carry it deep in your heart and embrace it intimately, is that because it is true, because it is who you really are, or because the infant loved daddy very much and heard him say that thing? Long before it could make sense of it? Is there, perhaps, a seemingly unbreakable attachment to the mere sound of the words in your head?
Rejecting the words would feel like … rejecting daddy. Which is of course nonsense, because the infant loved daddy, not the content of the words.
But this distinction stopped existing when words started to make sense. Suddenly those words were daddy. Just like now, they are You. If you rejected those words, you would be rejecting daddy. If someone else rejects them, they reject you.
But then, are you and daddy the same person?
And maybe You is not a clean mirror of daddy. Maybe You is a distorted reflection of daddy. If you hated daddy, maybe You is the polar opposite of daddy. Nonetheless a reaction.
So, if daddy had believed something else than he did, would he still have been daddy? If you would believe completely different things than you do, would you still be You? What makes up your essence? Your identity?
What would the infant think?
And you may say, babies are idiots. But then, that means that you were once an idiot.
And if having firm beliefs makes up the difference between being an idiot and having an identity, that means that at some stage, the idiot had to choose to believe in something in order to no longer be an idiot.
And how did he, being an idiot, verify that the thing he chose to believe in was not idiotic?
And if being an idiot means to be nothing, to have no identity, to practically not exist, going back to the state of having no beliefs would feel like death. So, in order not to die, would it be wiser to hold on to living, or to admit you are wrong? Or worse, that there is no right?
One may ask if there is, underneath all the beliefs, still the idiot. Have the beliefs replaced the idiot? Have they brought You into existence out of not existing?
And one more question, why did the idiot feel the need to adopt beliefs to no longer be an idiot?
Having to do so is a belief in itself. And before the infant learned the meaning of words, did he even understand what an idiot is? If he did not know what idiot means, why would he have cared to not be one?
Maybe the infant simply learned that the world punishes you for not having beliefs. For not being someone. For not being You. Maybe it was not really the world that was punishing him, but daddy.
But anyhow, so the infant decided to be someone. To gain an identity.
But you gotta wonder, if that identity is to be a representation of his unique self, of his personal integrity and boundaries, how can it consist of beliefs at all? For beliefs are formed of words, and words are limited forms of information learned from the outside world?
But, you may say, the beliefs are based on real life experiences and observations et cetera. Maybe so. The paths we take confront us with a specific set of information and input that we then adapt into the You, into the idea of the self.
But then, and sorry for beginning the fourth sentence with but, what if the baby, the non-entity, the nothing, would have taken a different path in life, adopted different beliefs, learned different words, perhaps even in a different language, experienced different pains, different pleasures, had learned different values based on a different culture, different behaviors adapted to different environments?
You could argue that the identity, the You, would be completely and utterly different. And yet, it would have been the same baby as a starting point. The same fucking idiot, before he learned the truth. Only that his idea of what truth is would be completely different. His experiences would be different, his life-story would be different, yes, his identity would be different.
What if the beliefs you learned were merely valid in a segregated microcosm that you were born into? And now, that they are no longer valid, does that make you an idiot again? Does it crush who you are? Does it kill You? And how do you know that the world you live in now is not in itself a microcosm instead of absolute truth? What if it is merely one of infinite parallel universes with different physical laws? Does that mean that the You, your identity, is an illusion? That you are not really you? That you have lost yourself? Is that possible?
And if the same baby can potentially experience any kind of way and arrive at totally different identities, is it fair to even call these things identities? For an identity is something that identifies you as who you are. Something that is constant and can never change, because you will always be you, no matter what you believe or experience.
So am I daring too much if I suggest that our identity and who we really are, has nothing to do with our beliefs? With our tastes, likes and dislikes, even with our personal life-story, our personality, our intelligence, our pains, our struggles, all the things we are proud of or hold on to as if our identity was something that can ever be lost? And if it could be lost, would it even be our identity? If I suggest that our identity is seperate from our past and even from our future and anything that we may ever experience and have ever experienced?
And if you go back in time – if there is such a thing – can you even say that your identity has anything to do with being human? With experiencing emotions?
Can I say that life is hard without having the mental capacity to comprehend those words?
You may say that society’s ideas are not You. But the person who is rejecting these ideas, is that You? Is the mental entity which rejects societal influences not in itself an accumulation of those?
Maybe these considerations are the source of the saying: You are the same as everyone else and unique at the same time.
Food for thought. Mmmh, food.