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  • Writer's pictureMichael Holme

Foolish identification

Updated: Apr 22

It is hard to not hold some identities, but I humbly imagine, that the most extreme examples of human situations, such as those that were forced on European Jews and others, during World War 2, may have challenged the most profoundly and fundamentally held personal views.

I'm going to suggest we avoid harbouring identities, but not because of the reason above, and not because anything any other person has written or said. My ideas are all my own. Anybody who is used to my writing, will know this subject has been cover by me before, not least in my "I am" book. I don't apologise for repetition. The thing about these thoughts, or words of wisdom, if you will, is that presentations in different ways, or different places, and in fact by many different people, can enhance the chances of any messages being successfully passed on. If for example, you focus on John's Gospel in the Christian New Testament, Jesus describes himself as "the Word" (1:1-14), "the Light" (1:4-9), "the Shepherd" (10:1-18), "the Bread of Life" (6:35-59), "the True Vine" (15:1-17), and "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (14:6). Long winded academic ramblings might impress academics, but are so exclusive, as to be near worthless to non-academic people, or in other words, the overwhelmingly greater sized, everyday majority.

The longer anybody stays alive, the greater the chance that any identity they will hold, will be challenged directly by others' beliefs and attitudes, or indirectly by unavoidable life circumstances. I want people to consider that there is no logical, intelligent, or emotional reasons, to firmly hold defining ideas about ourselves; and especially not to base self-confidence, group connections and/or affiliations, or understandings of who we are, on what are often precious, but non-tangible ideas we have and perhaps guard. To a lesser or very greater extent, simply having these, makes us vulnerable to hurt and offense from the conflicting views of others.

Of course, I have not been in a concentration camp. I did not survive the living damnation of somewhere like Belsen or Auschwitz, but I did work in a cutthroat commercial software house in the early 1990s. That doesn't sound like so much at all after the previous context; but it was a very big deal for me, because not long after starting my 18 months there, I was quickly subjected to regular unfair bullying, with management both seeing and ignoring it. Mid-way through that employment I became psychotic, by definition, I did not know I was psychotic, but my thoughts were increasingly mad, or crazy. It was a very insidious process. I started hearing derogatory voices in the third person, which appeared to come from people physically next to me. They were so real I only learned they'd been hallucinations, by talking to a very good CPN (community psychiatric nurse) over twenty years afterwards. The voices kept coming across as things like, "he's a yes man", "he's ruined his career", and "he'll never live it down", and they were always in the precise vocal tone of the person who was apparently saying them.

Being regularly bullied at your place of work is serious, but also being bullied by imaginary derogatory voices in the third person, makes it very challenging. I resigned, and perversely, things got worse, because I was a psychotic with no medical interventions at all. In a word, my mental condition ultimately annihilated me. I was destroyed as a person. It stripped me of any personality I had, and placed me most profoundly, at square one. You can give in or try to live. It took me the next twenty years to properly fix me; not that I actually know whether I've succeeded.

I don't write massive academic tomes. I'm telling you; I know. The penchant, more so these days than ever, for collecting identities, is dangerous. To a lesser or much greater degree, it makes you weak and vulnerable. There's no reason for it. That's why Jesus said, "the Kingdom of Heaven is within", and Buddha implored us to detach. Take this or leave it, but those precious and defining opinions of yourself, are totally pointless. They are your Achilles Heel. Had I not had them in the 1990s, my life would have been very different. It was those meaningless aspects which in me, were so painfully stripped. I love me now. It took a long time to rebuild me: over twenties years. Some things like my career, and many of my friendships, were irreparably damaged. Many don't make it after such a blow. I'm not saying we're all risking similar, but I categorically assert, that your identities are totally pointless vulnerabilities. They will definitely cause problems of some degree, from the minor, to the cataclysmic.

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