Friday, January 27, 2012

What defines you?

Had an idea rattling in my brain for the last few hours and wanted to get it down... in 0's and 1's, I guess.  How do you define yourself.  If you were to take 3 things that define who and what you are (in order of importance), what would they be?  Feel free to take a second and write them down.  Don't worry, this page isn't going anywhere and I'm not looking.  Ok, if you took a real hard look at yourself when writing that down, you'll find something interesting.  You wrote down filters.

I'll explain.  Often, people go through life with a vision of themselves.  Be it strength, intellect, gender, race, sexual preference, nationality, political party, wealth, religion or a myriad of other divisors, we always hold something up to set our internal compass.  Let's use intellect for a moment.  You may believe you are a very smart person, absorb knowledge easily, rationalize concepts quickly and value it more than many others.  It's a great quality to have but here is the kicker.  If that was #1 on your list, it's also a filter.  If you put that above all else, you would have an equal distaste for ignorance, stupidity and idiocy.  You'd have to, as it is the top thing that defines who you are as a person.

So, if you place your birthplace (city, state or nation) above all else, you become less forgiving of other locales.  If your #1 personal definer was gender, you would support and promote it and look less favorably at the opposite sex.  If you were dirt poor, as were your parents and their parents, you would look unfavorably at the well-to-do if your made what defines you was the belief you'd always be poor.  This list can keep going.  Religion can easily easily go that route as can political ideology and sexual preference.  I won't belabor that point further.

The passion of what defines you makes that #1 on your list pretty darn important as it also becomes a filter for who and what we let in and deflect.  We could very well put "human being" at #1 on the list and not believe that we will hate or go on crusades against dogs, cats or horses... although one may go with "living being" if they were averse to eating animals and saw them as an equal.  I've had and still have friends that have a #1 on their list that clears rooms, creates enemies and leaves a bunch of unhappiness in their wake.

You really can be what you want to be.  You can define yourself.  But, finding a definition of ourselves that lets others into our own little world is important... and it is how I view tolerance.

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