Thursday, April 24, 2014

Somewhere In-Between

Identities. Generally speaking, I don't like them. I don't feel any particular racial, religious, or class affiliation. I've enjoyed living in an apartment complex that's 95% Indian and sending my kid to a synagogue for daycare. I'll write quite a bit more about this in the future, but the short of it is that I am uncomfortable when people identify strongly with dimensions I have dismissed.

The recent shootings in Kansas have made me rethink my attitude, though. Some Grand Wizard decided he'd head to a local synagogue and shoot some Jews. He ended up shooting a bunch of Christians instead, but it's the intent that I'm addressing here. My first reaction was, “Ho hum - just another nut lob.” My second reaction was, “Jeez, have I put my son in harm's way by putting him in daycare at a synagogue?”

Please don't share this photo with Frazier Miller

It's that bit of hesitation that makes me feel sheepish about my distaste towards 'identities.' I know fear on a personal level. My brother was a very scary guy to share a house with growing up. I double-locked my bedroom door at night, and if we entered a room together, I would silently scan it for defense options – a chair, other people, maybe some stairs. It's not that my brother was frequently violent. It was that you couldn't predict when he would explode, and when he did, things could get really bad. I often feel like a survivor, and I'm grateful we live on separate coasts today.

And I imagine that's how many Jews and other marginalized groups feel. That vague feeling that people hate you to the point of doing real harm for no other reason than you belong to some group. It can be like the music that filters from downstairs into your dorm room in college: you learn to live with it, but you feel liberated once it's gone. And you want to be with people who know. People who you don't even have to explain things to because they understand implicitly.

In the end, I would prefer a world where we identify more strongly with our communities and less strongly with our tribes, if that makes sense. I would prefer a world where allegiances to certain 'isms' are weak enough to accommodate me and my kids because we're caught on the outside otherwise. But I suppose I have a better appreciation now why people cluster the way they do. 

Nobody said life was easy! Check out the rest of my website when you get a chance!