I’d intended to settle into this delightful cafe table, ensconced with my technology, my oh-so-tasty bagel and my perfectly doctored coffee and blog myself a nifty blogpost. Instead I’d discovered that someone had hacked my email account at quarter to six in the morning, and spammed all of my family, friends, acquaintances, and business contacts. So, there was less blogging and more damage control. Needless to say, I have changed my password.
As it goes, this is a rather minor level of identity theft, but it is disturbing nonetheless. My more tech-savvy friends recognized the phishing/spam email for what it was and contacted me in a variety of ways to alert me that I’d been hacked, but my less savvy contacts totally clicked on the link. This event has provided an interesting diving board for my thoughts, in that way. I mean, perhaps this is a Writer thing, or perhaps it’s simply a Human thing, but I strive really hard, and really intentionally to not only be understood when I communicate, but to experience a really high level of integrity in my words, and not only my words, but in my thoughts and my actions as well. It got me thinking, this minor case of identity theft.
I’m a religious person and all y’all know that by now. I’m also a political person, but I’m a political person in the same way that I’m a religious person. Namely, I’m not easily pigeon-holed, I take great pleasure in hearing multiple sides of the same question without trying to prove everyone else wrong, and I deeply respect the people who hold opinions different from my own, every bit as much as I do the people with whom I largely agree. (Recognizing that not everyone is like this, religion and politics are still taboo dinner subjects, I know.) All this is preamble to my point. I’m a creature who both enjoys intelligent, reasoned, inspired and respectful conversations about both religion and politics (among other things). My true identity is something beyond this, but of course this is part of the identifiable Me that I present to the rest of the world. And it strikes me that there is a rampant case of identity theft going on… And no, of course, it’s nothing new.
Here’s what I mean. You and I, we form opinions on a variety of subjects. If we have integrity, those opinions are going to jive with what we tell ourselves and others is important to us. This may sound like a tautology, but human beings aren’t required to have internal consistency and that is the definition of hypocrisy with which I’m working. So, we form these opinions and we can do that largely in three different ways. Number 1: We can accept, unexamined, the views of our elders that we began receiving at birth. Number 2: We can accept, unexamined, the views we encounter as an adult that already confirm our present world view and reject those that do not. (You’ll notice that #2 plays heavily off #1, but does in fact, require an influx of new information which cannot be assumed in all cases.) Number 3: We can respectfully examine both the views we’ve been given and all the ones we encounter in this world, choosing from the wisdom of our own experience what seems to be the ‘best practice’ in any given situation. This last way doesn’t preclude being a member of a political party or religion, for instance, but it does acknowledge that toeing the party line is never, ever acceptable. It’s not a rampant individualism, it’s a deepening of Understanding, it’s living out the answer to every four year old’s favorite question: Why?
When we encourage people asking and wrestling with the why’s of the world, no one will be able to steal someone’s identity by simply informing them how they will be voting, what they will believe, what is important to them, what they must buy, how they will live their lives and what will constitute happiness form them and theirs. Because if that isn’t identity theft, just as surely as stealing someone’s email or driver’s license and then posing as them in order to meet some end otherwise unachievable, then I’m not sure what is.