The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A Crisis of Identity

Identity is a big deal! It's such a big deal, in fact, that some would kill or be killed over it! Wars have been fought over it! Of course, some people might take issue with me over that last statement, but that should make one wonder how THEY identify! So why is one's individual identity so important? Why should it make a difference in how we treat one another? ( In case some take issue with THIS question: YES; how one identifies DOES make a difference in how they're treated! ( I'm guilty of this myself ) Why DO we then, treat that person differently than the other, simply because he or she identifies differently? ( Not that ALL do this, but sadly, most do! ) Have we forgotten who we are? Are we not More than our humanity, or are we, after all, simply human beings that will go the way of all biology, our bodies returning to the dust, while our spirits rest for Eternity in some 'Heaven' or simply go 'poof' ( disappear )?

'Who are you, really?' This is a quote from one of my favorite Clint Eastwood westerns & is based squarely in the notion of identity, but it fits well into our theme here! In context, the actor had been playing a part which didn't really suit the situation, so he came back to play the part he had formerly played, that of a gunslinger. All that said, we should pose this question to ourselves; 'who are we, really?' While it may be rightly said, of course, that it helps to identify with something, for, as the old adage goes, 'if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything' ( ? ), it should also be noted that to identify with this rather than that, one ideal instead of another, has led to unnecessary conflict. 'Unnecessary conflict?, one might say; 'some conflict is necessary, for one must identify ( stand with ) us or them, or one stands for nothing'! This almost seems to be a valid argument & from a merely human standpoint, it would be hard to say that it's not ( valid ), but when we realize our true nature, everything else seems to fade in importance, if not entirely into the background, into the fleeting edges of consciousness, one might say!

The importance of Identify cannot be denied. One's true nature & the realization thereof is of utmost importance! This is not to say, however, that unless & until one realizes their true nature, he or she is of no use in this world, for there has been much that is good in this world that has been accomplished by those who did not realize ( consciously speaking ) their true nature. Until people realize their true nature, though, the good things they have accomplished will not last, for as generations rise & fall, the good that has been done may be corrupted & thus will become what many would identify as 'evil'! Although not necessarily 'evil'; to many, the 'good' will become 'evil', simply because it is different from what they identify as 'good'.

Lest I be falsely accused of vaunting relativity over Absolute Truth; I realize that there IS such a thing as Absolute Truth & while Absolute Truth MAY be known, it is not by reading words in a book that one may know this Absolute Truth, but it is only through the Spirit Within, the realization of one's true nature, that It can be known. There IS such a thing as 'faith', one might insist, wherein one believes ( blindly? ) that what some book says is Absolute Truth & indeed, Absolute Truth may be hidden within the pages of a book, though it should be noted that, all 'faith' aside, It is what It is, not what any certain book says It is!

What is 'evil' to one person ( or group of people ) may be identified as 'good' to another. The inherent problem with this ( if problem there be ) should be obvious! The problem is personal! Because of personal likes & dislikes, we encounter conflicts. One person enjoys this or that activity, one thing or another, over something else, while the other enjoys just the opposite. It must be noted that, while our personal differences are a necessary part of what makes us human, there is also the more integral part of us that IS no different from the other. THAT is our True Nature, what some call 'the soul'. It is what motivates us, without which our human nature could not perform even its most basic function. There is a higher & lower nature, what could also be called 'the conscious' & 'the unconscious' part of that nature, but that may constitute another story for another day!

As human beings, we feel that we MUST have our own ( individual ) identity; we need to SHINE! There is nothing wrong with individuality, not inherently, but as naturally selfish human beings, we tend to focus overmuch on our ( own ) individuality, often to the detriment of the other's. Rhetorical questions like, 'why can't you be more like your brother/sister?' most often have the effect of making the object of haranguement want to be LESS ( not more ) like their brother/sister! This in turn tends to cause conflict between the two subjects in question & my Christian readers will no doubt remember the biblical story of Cain & Abel: that conflict ended in the physical death of one of the brothers & the metaphorical death of the other, all because they were different & Cain let his Ego get the better of him.

We HAVE an Identity! There is no need for us to go searching for it ( outside ourselves ), nor do we need to DO something in order to BE identified. We are who & what we are. What we are, in our innermost being, is part & parcel with the same Being/Entity that 'created' us, in Whom 'we live and move and have our being' ( Acts 17:28 ). Lest I be accused, again, of saying that we ARE this 'Creator': we are not the One ( if THAT is even the correct way to say It ) that hung the Stars or made the Mountains rise out of the Seas, though we ARE Creators in our own right!

All that said, speaking of Absolute Truth, we are who we are! Humanity, in its varied individual nature, says, 'if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck'. Our True Nature, that of Oneness, says, 'though we be ( personally/individually ) different. we will not allow our differences to overcome ( consume ) us!' Our True Nature, along with St. Francis of Assisi, says, 'where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.' We do not find conflict in our differences, but rather unity in spite of or even because of our individuality! May we, as a race of selfish human beings, find within ourselves, in our innermost being, this True Nature, before we murder & destroy each other, indeed all created things, because of our individual identities!

Charles Haddon Shank

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