I think the most important thing in life is what we accept as the truth about the kind of person we are and the kind of person we are capable of becoming. Life is more than what actions or behaviors are reinforced or punished. Much of what we do is about identity. It is about what confirms us and defines us. So much of what we do is a function of who we are.
Identity is a process and not a product. Yet everywhere there are forces that tell us we are “nothing but.” Nothing but what is hard or difficult for us, nothing but the things that we wish we did better or different. Labels are “nothing but” statements. They would tell us we are “nothing but” the conditions of our life, nothing but our social status, the groups we are placed in, nothing but poor, nothing but or age or sex or religious faith or the issues we struggle with. They tell us the verdict is in and life is that verdict.
Identity is more than a statement about something we have. It is a process statement about what we can become and a statement of belief that we do, what we choose, what we value makes an impact in that process.
The essence of oppression is being told you are a fixed quantity and because you are in some way less than others you should not have the right, the access to what others have. It is not just the statement that you are less but that is just a reality you need to accept.
You can’t have a less with a more and a major part of such labeling is not just who it puts down but whose power it justifies.
If people matter they matter because of their capacity to shape their own lives and identities. Life is hard for everyone and in some ways limits us. No one has a blank check. Yet everywhere, everyday people show they can make an impact despite what is hard or difficult.
It is the best of what it means to be a human being.