The Lenses of Identity
People are obsessed with looking through lenses. Not actual lenses, like the ones in telescopes or sunglasses. Although those are cool. I mean the metaphorical lenses of identity. People have different experiences that filter the way they see things in the world, like lenses filter certain types of light. Everyone sees through these identity lenses, but we often forget that we have the power to look through other lenses. Or even try and remove those lenses altogether. A person is more than their worldview, or the sum of their experiences.
Some of the most common lenses are race, gender, religion, political party, etc. Real lenses filter out harmful things like UV radiation. Identity lenses have a similar effect. They filter our ideas and understandings that do not support our identity. There are offensive ideas out there, being championed by offensive people. But there is a big difference between filtering out radiation and filtering out offensive ideas. Radiation will give you cancer. Ideas won’t.
We wear lenses to protect ourselves, and we wear them to set ourselves apart. We might only want to associate with people who wear the same lenses as us. When we wear our lenses too long, removing them hurts. So we go back to our comfortable worldview, convincing ourselves it is just because that’s what all the cool people are doing.
Wearing sunglasses can make a person look cool. Until you see the same person wearing sunglasses in the dark. Wearing identity lenses can make a person seem caring, or real, or cutting edge. But if they wear them all the time they will miss more than they perceive.
Identity is great. But underneath each of our special, unique identities we are all just people. Each of us has the power to remove our lenses. And see the world with our human eyes.