I heard this wonderful quote* on my predawn walk this morning. We all are born unique yet most of us die a copy. I thought about that, about how when I first became a parent I assumed my child would be born a blank canvas and upon this canvas I would write and shape…yet she was born whole, with her personality and identity so clearly present that my role wasn’t to shape, instead to steward a space for her to become more of all that was fully present at her birth.
And then I thought about how life, our society, pop culture, education, parenting…shapes most of us into little carbon copies of each other. How our society resorts to bullying the one who is unique. That everything conspires to have us be the same. To never rock the boat. That whole systems and institutions rely on this sameness. That our politician and CEO’s are terrified of those few who refuse to buy the sameness cool-aide. How we fear difference, individuality, and the refusal to fit into the neat little boxes society has created. Sameness make us feel safe.
I remember when I first went to London in 1983 at the height of the punk rock movement. Sitting side by side on the tube would be the granny clutching her purse with her gloved hands, her tightly curled coiffure neat beneath a scarf, and the guy with spiked hair standing a foot tall off his head, safety pins attached to his nose with chains, and platform boots. That in the British tradition, this extreme form of expression was not something to point at, or comment on. It just was a normal day on the tube.
And now this week in Ireland, once the bastion for the Roman Catholic Church, the people voted to support marriage equality.
And recently a digital agency designed a representation of gender and disability that no longer discriminated in its design. How we are now recognising that the neat little package of being either male or female is not so neat, and that many people do not relate to either.
We have this push and pull…the push to sameness, and the pull to our uniqueness. It is a push pull struggle that we face every day. I think the wonderful part of being a conscious human is that we can choose… today I will blend in and conform, and tomorrow I am going to stand out from the crowd.
But to live a life where our uniqueness is lost to us beneath decades of other peoples ideas of who and what we should be…this is a tragedy.
*The quote was attributed to the mother of Arianna Huffington.