Identity Problems – A Frank Discussion

Several weeks back, I made the declaration that the more labels a person adopts, the harder it becomes to be a person and know who you are.  Multiple labels saddle a person with mental struggles that become physically exhausting.  Each label comes with social responsibilities, cultures, and expectations that cannot be shirked as long as a person has adopted that label.

For example, I am a dual-service disabled veteran.  Thus, I carry the cultures, expectations, and responsibilities of sailors and soldiers.  Consider what the expectations of a soldier are, and that image is part of the identity and societal responsibilities for being a veteran soldier.  Being disabled carries societal expectations, both mental and physical burdens.  Consider the Marines, and every Marine is a Marine for life!  You graduate basic training and earn the title Marine, and you will ALWAYS be a Marine!  Again, that title and label hold societal expectations voluntarily onboarded, and never will a Marine lose the attitude and social expectations of Marines.

The same is true of every single label a person voluntarily chooses for themselves.  The label will attract specific people into your social circles, but only as long as you willingly live the life expectations of that label.  Each label selected will form identities and mental challenges to meet the social expectations, a heavy burden indeed!

In a recent Tik Tok video, a person proudly declares more than 50-labels, preferred adjectives and pronouns, and identities. The video lasted more than 3 minutes, and I felt sorry for the exertion this person will face every minute they have these identities onboarded.  Another person watching this video declared that the subject claiming their labels was mentally ill; I agree with that sentiment.  Why; because the subject will never know who they are because of the noise of the labels, which includes the social pressures, the responsibilities, and the expectations.  I do not know the name of the person in the video, I would not share that video due to the privacy respect I have for others.

Who are you?

Even though current society in 2021 declares confusion between who and what a person chooses to be, not what are you.  For example, I do not like, nor do I onboard, the identity of disabled.  I am NOT disabled, handicapped, injured, and working on healing, but NOT disabled.  Consider the power of words for a moment.

The transitive verb “dis” means to show disrespect, insult, or criticize.  As a prefix, “dis” is defined as the opposite of something, depriving someone of something, excluding someone, or expelling someone.  Thus, a disabled person is either being disrespected, insulted, or criticized, deprived, excluded, expelled, or is the opposite of able.  Frankly, when we are made aware of the etymology of words, we are then more aware of why people choose to adopt or not adopt certain words and labels.  Do we understand this problem of labels just from an etymological perspective?

Regardless of plasticization, words hold power over the mind.  Words become identities, thoughts become things, and research supports that labels hurt mental processes and can permanently scar.  Yet, who and what a person chooses as their identities are not considered a problem in current society or a mental illness.  People’s choices reflect their identities to attract those in socially accepted circles.

Thus, who are you?  Who do you choose to be?  Are those identities sufficient?  While not as important as who a person is, the last question ranks a close second.  How many identities can you physically onboard and live successfully?  As a fan of simplicity and a follower of the KISS rules, as detailed by Murphy, the god of perversity, I keep it supremely simple to protect my energy levels and allow my identity to shine through.  Having only a few identities enables me to select social commitments, restrict the mental noise and exertions, and hold myself accountable to a few identities to grow as a person.

Returning to the Tik Tok video subject and their 50+ labels, identities, and preferred pronouns, we must ask, what is sufficient?  A follow-on video by this person reflected the physical exertions from conforming to identities and social pressures.  Worse, this person had onboarded several more labels and identities. They reflected the mental illness and physical drain caused by trying to live up to all the label responsibilities.  An extreme example; unfortunately, no; the pressures to onboard labels and identities have grown exponentially, mental problems are too significant to quantify, and they are growing.

Not just in America, the confusion about who a person is, the identities, and their inherent loads, have become a global phenomenon.  What are the mental health professionals doing; causing harm by not discussing the physical and mental exertions of onboarding too many identities.  It is up to the individual and parents of minor children to understand and help learn and teach simplicity in labels allows growth as a person, not more identities, but less.  Fewer identities provide freedom for growth, identity exploration and empower mental health, leading to improved physical health.

Identities

As a pre-teen, I struggled with the concept of my identity.  Religion was a curse, my family was worse, and I did not know who I was, thus strangling what I could do or become.  I got jealous of how my sister could get away with breaking the rules and thought I should be a girl.  I struggled with wanting to be a girl for several years as I learned who I was and what I wanted to be.  If this problem occurred right now, professionals would counsel me to adapt and change my body through drugs and surgery, compounding my identity problems.  Yet, what helped, was getting to know me!

I had several people help me form an identity I could be comfortable living with as I explored my options, fought to understand my role and purpose, and embraced my potential.  It took time, lots of time.  It required patience with myself, a moral code I could live in, and a desire to learn—all of which I had to develop from scratch.  My identity is forged in the fires of adversity, for the consequences of my choices during this time played a role in how I went to school, what I chose to learn, and where I found employment and socially accepted company.  Some of those consequences hang around even all these many years later.  Some consequences I have been able to live long enough to survive.

Worse, as I have learned more about myself, my identity has changed, bringing with it consequences of change.  Music, movies, humor, education, and more are part of an identity that forms a life.  Choices bring consequences; how we value those consequences (e.g., good/bad, profitable/unprofitable, etc.) will determine our eventual destiny towards understanding who we are, so we can become what we desire to see in the mirror.  More lessons I had to learn, then and only then, could the value of religion be discovered, the value of family understood, and honor and pride and commitment to self appreciated as an identity to live.  Crucial to this growth and development, I know when to cut social ties, drop music and movies into the trash, and I am imperfect in changing, but I have some lessons I would see others learn to avoid pitfalls.

      1. Commit to learning using the question, “Who am I?” as a core principle to discovery.
      2. Allow yourself time to think, ponder, and consider before committing to an identity. I always wanted to be a soldier, but I loved the ocean.  I did not understand the value of these paradoxical options, and by rushing headlong, I had to learn an identity after living that identity.  Arduous path; know first, then adopt an identity.  Let me try and simplify that with my favorite axiom,  learned as an Emergency Medical Technician, “Never take your body where your mind has not traveled first!”
      3. Comfort is key. If you are not comfortable, your conscience tells you something is wrong.  An identity should require physical strain and mental confusion.  Yes, you can delude yourself for a time/  Ultimately, your conscience, spirit, intellect, whatever you call your inner voice, will break through and tell you your identity is not mentally acceptable.  If your identity choice is not comfortable, it will affect your physical health negatively.
      4. Never stop learning; learning leads to change, and change is good!
      5. When in doubt, turn to lesson two, give yourself more time before committing to an identity.

I love hard rock, big hair bands, and southern rock.  Steel guitars, banging drums, and headbanging to an excellent beat are an identity with power.  But headbanging gives me incredible headaches.  Too much rock and roll, and I cannot think clearly, and the ability to control my thinking is paramount to me.  Do I adopt the headbanging identity or not; sometimes, I am all in for a solid rock fest.  Mostly, I listen to the inner voices and moderate my music.  See, lesson two continues to hold power and lesson four keeps me thinking how much longer will I affect my identity with an uncomfortable identity with physical pain.

Choose carefully, evaluate often, and allow yourself the freedom to grow by not onboarding labels without due consideration.  Please, consider your gender and biological sex as integral to your ultimate destiny and comfort.  Before you are comfortable in your skin, you have to be comfortable in your mind!  If you want to explore identities, explore, but explore smartly and be cognizant of the social responsibilities, expectations, and cultures inherent with an identity.  Observe those with those identities closely for the consequences of thier identity.

I cannot betray a confidence, but I have witnessed how traumatic experiences can be the impetus for forcing an identity change.  A close associate went to a party, had a mickey slipped into their drink, and woke to a new reality.  The consequences of other people’s identities can negatively impact your identity, especially if you do not know who you are!

I have never been comfortable with the hard rock, headbanging social aspects of rock and roll identities.  The illicit drug use, the promiscuous sexual encounters, and the extremes in living frankly scare the hell out of me!  But, I love the music, and I love much of the wardrobes in this identity, even though I will NOT wear makeup and cannot play a musical instrument.

Life is a journey; travel safely using the axiom, “Never take your body, or anyone else, anywhere your mind has not already traveled.”  Think, ponder, consider, and then act confidently.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

NO MORE BS: Diversity, Equality, Inclusion, and Assimilation

Public Service Announcement:  The following article is probably longer than desired.  However, I am trying to cover a lot of basics where tyrants have invaded and are attempting to gain control.

LookLet me be perfectly clear; I do not care what you look like, your handicaps, abilities, or disabilities, or frankly, anything other than how you do your job and live your life to not interfere with other people’s freedom.  Hence, when the discussion inevitably turns to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, I fully believe that you are the number one driver of equality and inclusion in the workplace and society.  You choose to become offended if you feel not included at work.  You decide to feel marginalized, and in choosing to feel marginalized, your choices and consequences are solely yours.  Except, you demand your consequences be the problem of the business and community.  That behavior is childish, selfish, and reveals your ignorance!

Does discrimination occur, absolutely; but discrimination does not disappear magically when a diversity, equality, and inclusion workplace initiative is launched!  Discrimination does not disappear because someone passed a law.  Your attitude, actions, and decisions are all choices you make that come with natural consequences for you.  You drive your ability to be included the majority of the time.  Individual choice and consequence are the reality never spoken of during DEI initiatives.  Failure to include personal choice, assimilation, and consequence remains a glaring hole in DEI training topics.

quote-mans-inhumanityAssimilation

Assimilation is the act of assimilating, and assimilating is all about taking in and understanding something fully.  The Borg from Star Trek gave assimilation a bad name.  Worse, some people erroneously proclaim that when you assimilate, you give up pieces of yourself.  Assimilation is all about taking the best of you, adding to the best of us, and making the whole stronger than the individual parts.  Yet, every DEI training I have been forced to attend has been pessimistic about assimilation and assimilating into a stronger whole.  Assimilating is also about absorbing and integrating into a wider society or culture.

For example, a balanced diet includes non-favorite foods, but those foods are good for you.  Your body assimilates the good and the bad foods consumed, eat enough poor nutritional foods, and the body suffers physical and mental health problems.  Eat too many good foods, and your body will assimilate foods differently and possibly begin to reject certain foods.  Hence, balance is needed to properly diet and strengthen the body.  Extremes in food, like attitudes, are bad for the body as a whole.  The same choice and consequence cycles that drive the assimilation of foods into the body are the same choices and consequences when applied to workplace assimilation into existing cultures.  Extremes are hazardous to health!

Editorial - Educational TruthDiversity

Diversity is all about variety and including variety in a social environment.  Diversity has been stretched to become a practice of including people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and other societies into a greater community.  The problem with the plastic second definition of diversity is the assumption that a variety of different people are automatically not wanted or desired in the social environment currently.  History has never been kind to different people in a society.  This is true of ethnicities, cultures, disabilities, and abilities, and nothing will change discrimination in any organization made up of human individuals.

A friend invited me to a bar; I was not accepted into that bar’s culture as I am a veteran and do not share other lifestyle choices of the bar’s dominant culture.  Discrimination happens; if you choose to become offended by the selection of diversity in a community, that is your problem.  I did not become offended at the other patrons in a bar and demand that they accept me, it did not matter to me one way or the other if I was accepted or not, and this should be the same stance everyone should be taking!

Life ValuedEquality

Of all the terms we are discussing, equality is by far the most plasticized, twisted, deformed, and dangerously laden with unnecessary baggage!  Equality is all about a state of being equal.  Equality comes from the “Rule of Law” and the application of “The Rule of Law” for all in society.  Except, equality is not what is desired in the term equality when speaking of DEI, but “Social Equality.”

Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to certain social goods and services.  Essentially, social equality is all about twisting “The Rule of Law” into exceptions for specific socially acceptable groups; instead of equality, social equality is all about bringing all onto unequal grounds before the law.  There is no equality in social equality, ever!

Andragogy - The PuzzleInclusion and Discrimination

Inclusion is all about the practice of being included.  That’s it, the whole enchilada; inclusion is all about being included.  However, what does it mean to be included; here is where ideas like fit, temperament, desire, and choice and consequences enter a social group, community, or organization.  Where DEI is concerned, inclusion is all about shifting the margins, dropping the individual decisions, and forcing all to be lumped together regardless of personal desire.  Worse, inclusion is forced with the power of law without regard; hence all are injured in an attempt to be “socially inclusive.”

Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.  Except, discrimination happens all the time, and efforts to be more “inclusive” have done nothing to reduce discrimination.  I was hired for an inside sales position with a 90-day trial period.  My wife dropped off some equipment I had left at home one day.  The bosses learned my wife is older than I am; from that day to the end of my trial, when I was released without cause, the attitude towards me was significantly and tangibly different.  Skin color, ethnicity, gender choice, sexual bedroom choices, and every other possible thing can be the source of discrimination, and nothing will change this facet of human behavior.

Admitting that discrimination is happening is not being defeatist, nor am I suggesting that discrimination laws should be scrapped.  I am relating a truth about human behavior and why the law cannot dictate moral behaviors!  Demanding inclusion does nothing to reach the core roots of the problems with discrimination in society.  Which is another truth for certain that must be recognized and discussed.

Andragogy - LEARNExclusion

Exclusion is the opposite of inclusion but also represents a risk.  The risk of exclusion is found in the legal arguments from discrimination, not the risk of being omitted.  More, exclusion has stricter requirements than elements of inclusion ever will.  For example, insurance policies have specific criteria that exclude coverage as a means for controlling risk.  The same thinking on insurance policies is the same as what occurs in social environments when a person is actively excluded.

For example, in the US Army, my platoon sergeant and my squad leader had a group of people they were comfortable with both on and off duty.  I was not welcome because I hit more of the exclusion criteria than the inclusion criteria.  I did not enjoy sports, wasn’t a drinker, a womanizer, and several other items.  Off duty, this wasn’t that big of a deal.  On duty, this exclusion caused me tremendous problems as I learned to be a soldier.  Still, the choices for inclusion or exclusion came down to preference and accountability.  As the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer allowed these discriminatory practices to exist, I had no right to complain, and my mistakes were my own.  It was a difficult period in my life, but I survived and was stronger for the challenge.

Literary FiendIndividual Identity

Who are you?  What makes you an individual identity in a socially expanding group?  The United Nations has declared your culture, gender, sexual preferences, and race are all personal choices as part of a unique identity created, changed, and designed for and by the person making the choices.  What the UN fails to mention are the consequences.

In the US Navy, I served with a woman who was as white as the freshly driven snow, but she identified as black.  According to the United Nations, this is acceptable.  This sailor spoke, acted, and identified culturally as black even though she was white, blonde hair, blue-eyed, and the antithesis of cultural black identifying characteristics.  I am not one to judge and, frankly, could have cared less how she identified herself.  But the command through a total fit when she showed up to morning quarters with dredlocks.

Remember, your identity is your choice.  I care less about your identity than I do about a fly.  How you work, what you do, and your respect for others’ rights matters to me.  But, do not make your choices to be an individual affect my life.  Do not thrust your identity into my world and demand respect; I do not care about your identity!

CourageGroup Identity

Group identity is the melding and assimilation of identities and behaviors needed to work together effectively.  That’s it; the whole casserole!  Take any sports team, any sport, and you will find the same in winners and losers, those who choose to assimilate the group identity gain success.  Those who refuse to assimilate will lose every time.  Pick a sports movie; here are a couple of suggestions where you will see for yourself the truth of the power in assimilation:

        • We Are Marshall
        • Friday Night Lights
        • Glory Road
        • Hoosiers
        • Invincible
        • Miracle
        • Radio

Group identity requires sacrificing individual identity for a cause bigger than oneself.  Yet, for DEI training, when is this ever discussed?  Winning business organizations cannot be successful without individuals sacrificing their individual identity for group success.  How have we forgotten this rule of nature?

Lever UpSubordinate Culture

Subordinate cultures, micro-networks, ol’ boys network, whatever you call it, subordinate cultures are designed around those who refuse to assimilate and make their choices the problems of managers and leaders.  Consider those who hyphenate their cultures, Indian-American, Russio-Chinese, Irish-Israeli, etc.  You will find someone who refuses to assimilate and cannot understand the need to be whole culturally and who could be more without the hyphen.

In the US Navy, I met more than ten first-generation Americans from Jamaica, Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Puerto-Rico, and other places.  Not a single one of them would consider hyphenating their status as American.  Yet, too often, people who have been in America for multiple generations feel a need to hyphenate to identify themselves.  Why establish a subordinate culture?  A subordinate culture is assumed to be lower in status than a dominant culture.  The subordinate culture is treated of lesser importance, deemed under the control of something else, and all because of the hyphenation.  Is being subordinate desired; if so, why?

President AdamsDominant Culture

The dominant culture is the most powerful or influential culture in an organization.  Essentially, more people assimilated and sacrificed for the success that the organization is enjoying than refused.  Yet, in DEI training, dominant culture carries negative baggage and is not allowed as it could be misunderstood.  Seriously, the concept peddled in this training blew my mind.  What happens if the LGBTQ+ community became the dominant culture in a country; would it be accused of the same claptrap the LGBTQ+ community currently claims they suffer?

Why did Rome fail; they lost the “Rule of Law,” and the subordinate cultures took power and could not unify the majority of people when invaders came.  One of the greatest Republics in the history of man is responsible for improving millions of people’s lives.  Failed and fell an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle over the same issues every single business and democratic country in the world is facing right now.

Grit is a MarathonIndividual Choice

I was part of a first-day introduction activity for new hires (2016), and one of the new hires made an individual choice to identify themselves in the following manner, “I am John Smith, I am non-binary queer with a passion for anal sex.”  What does this have to do with the position they were hired to fill?  Which audience member in a professional setting needed or wanted this information?  The declaration automatically put the entire audience on the defensive; the Human Resources representative was placed into a difficult position and called a 10-minute break to regain composure and finish the introductions.

How you choose is your business!  I will respect your ability to choose as you desire; keep your choices to yourself, as I will keep my preferences to myself.  Believe it or not, we can work together really well without disclosing our personal choices and lifestyles outside of employment.  But, when you make your preferences my problem, I will deal with them the same as I deal with that pesky fly, ignore!

Content of their CharacterConsequences

Self-awareness, curiosity, and empathy are what I was told today that will make DEI work, and through learning and unlearning, DEI can make an organization stronger.  I agree the learning is vital, curiosity is always a valuable tool, self-awareness is important, but empathy is dangerous, divisive, and deadly!  Failure to recognize the need for assimilation and sacrifice places the burden onto people who have enough on their plate with their responsibilities in their work.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2Imperative to the improvement and liberation of thought and the power of people is the eradication of litigated moral behavior.  We, the individuals who make up our communities and businesses, must recognize the 800# gorilla in the room, mandating inclusion, refusing assimilation, denying the need to sacrifice individual identity for group success; these must be enshrined into our cultures, again!  Let us embrace these truths and design our “Liberty FIRST Cultures” around a single “Rule of Law,” where people are respected and freedom blossoms!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.