There’s no such thing as a “real” man or a “real” woman. We are non-binary, gender-fluid humans who try to label everything so that our brains can believe it understands. It doesn’t. All labeling does is provide the illusion of linear order and sense.
Only when we’re able to step away from the need to give everything a name or a category are our eyes finally opened. And now we use these labels to create deep divisions in our thinking, believing that if something isn’t like us, it’s somehow “wrong” or needs to be killed. I know a thing or two about this, as my family was run in this same way.
It reminds me of a story one of my teachers told in seventh grade. It went something like this:
On a remote island that had never been exposed to humanity at large, lived a tribe. All they knew was their island and themselves and anything that existed on that piece of water-surrounded land. One fateful day, a rowboat washed ashore and the people there found another human lying unconscious in the bottom, soaked in several inches of water. They cared for him even though his skin was much lighter than theirs. When he regained consciousness, he was grateful for his life and to those who’d saved it.
This man had struck a reef while at sea and was the only survivor. He knew that there would be people looking for him, and so made his careful way down to the beach every day to watch the horizon for ships that might be the one he was waiting for. Intrigued, the island people followed him and sat with him, though they had no idea what he was doing. Perhaps he waited for a god to appear, and they were all right with that.
Then, one day, he stood up, shielding his eyes from the brilliant sun because he saw a shape on the horizon. It was flashing morse code every fifteen seconds or so. And…it seemed to be drawing nearer. He yelled and waved and jumped up and down, and so did the islanders. He pointed out the ship to them, but they only looked confused. What they saw was something far different than the man saw. Because they’d never seen a ship before, they saw only an enormous whale traversing the sea. And when this vessel drew near, they ran and hid, fearful that the beast would kill them. When they returned to the shore some time later, the man was gone. The beast had killed him and they offered thanks to the creature for sparing their lives.
The moral is that we cannot see what we are not open to seeing.
This way of thinking blinds us to reality. Not just our perception of reality, but reality.
When we listen to the radio or read a magazine, we are taught that we are all very different from one another, even though this is a falsehood. Yet we allow this way of thinking to be perpetuated time and again.
A black man was murdered today…
Gay singer wows judges…
Bank CEO wins lottery…
What do these accomplish? They create a division in our thinking. I’m not black, so I don’t have to care. I’m not gay, so I don’t have to care. I’m not a CEO, so I don’t have to care.
We are all humans. Every life matters. This is our RACE…the HUMAN RACE. I am no more identified by the word “writer” than I am by the phrase “blue-eyed white man.” Unless I allow it to define me, then it’s all just neutrality being forced into something faux-meaningful.
Jim Carrey, in one of the most profound graduation speeches I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, said, “I have no limits. I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man. You can’t contain the container. I used to believe that whoever I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I’d been given this little vehicle called the body from which to experience creation, as though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model. It was after all a loaner and would have to be returned…
“ What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What did they need that your talent could provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who’s done what you’re about to go and do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is, because everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that is left of you is what was in your heart. My choosing to free people from concern got me from to top of the mountain. Look where I am, look what I get to do everywhere I go. I’m going to get emotional, because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me. I did something that made people present their best selves to me wherever I go. I am at the top of the mountain. And I was. And the only one I hadn’t freed was myself, and that’s where my search for identity deepened.”
I am you. You are me. We are no different in any way, and it’s far past time that we stop looking for our differences and look for our similarities. The sooner we do this, the more quickly we foster peace. And love. And most importantly, our humanity.