Entry 2: Identity Crisis...

  • From an early age, I felt the compulsion to stick my nose in other peoples' business, hopefully for the best. I don't remember much from the time, but when my brother and I were in foster care for about a month, I learned how to lie and withhold information, to keep him safe from the foster mother's wrath, or worse, the wrath of her boyfriend. In some cases, though, my intervention turned out for the worst, and all I was trying to do was help set right what was so clearly wrong. I had a high opinion of myself and my cunning, regardless of how little I actually knew or could do. To me, there were three unbearable injuries to the ego: admitting that other people were better at something than I was, admitting I made a mistake, and only hearing about some horrible event that happened to the people I cared about, after it was too late to do anything about it. As much as I tried to center my focus on others, it always seemed to come around to me, and though it seemed natural, I hated it.

    As I read the Bible, I constantly came across passages about how the ego was bad, how the importance of the many outweighed the importance of the few, how necessary equality and justice are, the need for mercy to temper justice, and most importantly, holding everyone to the same standards. Two phrases that always seemed to stand out come from Jesus and Paul. Luke 9:23 says, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." In three different places - Romans 10:12, Galatians 3:28, and Colossians 3:11, - Paul says the following: "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him... There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus... Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

    While the Bible upholds Christ as the ultimate example of how we're supposed to be, it leaves the decision of what we are to make of ourselves up to us. Part of being like Christ involves erasing every false quality about ourselves and our pasts. Everything we made of ourselves, to stand out, or to be accepted among others. Everything we made of ourselves, out of fear or pain. That's all a lie. We can become whatever we choose to be, but why choose to be a lie, when you can be what you really are? Why fight something that's not only right for you, but also right in general? Who knows you, better than the one who made us all? Such is my way of thinking on this particular matter, but it goes further than that.

    In Shoninki, it says that, when a ninja is questioned about something that he accomplishes, he should make himself look as ordinary and unlikely to accomplish it as possible, especially since the skills of ninjutsu are skills anybody with the motivation and dedication can learn. Later, it goes on to say that a ninja should be capable of becoming someone else entirely, so that even those closest to them couldn't recognize them. Specific details on this are recorded both in Bansenshukai, and the ninjutsu scrolls of Chikamatsu Shigenori. More importantly, when discussing the likelihood of dying for your cause, Bansenshukai goes into a lot of detail, convincing the reader that we, and our lives, are the products of the changes in nature. There is no end of life, and no beginning to life; it just takes different forms. That means we don't really have, or need, identities of our own; in fact, without an identity, it becomes easier to do all kinds of covert activities, to preserve justice and mercy. Death and injury are no more to be feared, than sleep or exercise. Likewise, Christ says, "Do not fear those who can kill the body, and cannot kill the soul; rather, fear He who can destroy both body and soul, by sentencing you to Hell." In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher tells us, "So the body returns to the dust, from which it was formed, and the spirit returns to the God who gave it."

    Crime and sin both have a lot in common. Both cause suffering, either by doing something detrimental to another person, or by refusing to do something beneficial for them. In either case, the root is a sense of elitism. Undeserved and inflated pride. Self importance. The willingness to step all over anyone and anything in their way, even to a minor degree, because they think they deserve better. They want and need to be somebody, and to do that, they need to effect a situation that turns other people into nobodies. They use threats and secrecy to keep themselves safe, because they know the many are more powerful than the few. They are, to rip off an often-used line from Batman, suspicious and cowardly. They're also smarter than they get credit for being; any criminal has to be at least a little smarter than their mark, in some area or other, to be successful. Part of that means they have at least a rudimentary grasp of business; if nothing else, they know how supply and demand works. They know anybody could be a potential client, and until they get them as a loyal client, they're not going to risk ruining a possible deal by getting aggressive with them for no apparent reason. On the other hand, if they know who's ruining their business, they have no qualms with doing whatever it takes to eliminate the problem; since they're criminals, they're willing to break the law, and even kill, to achieve their goals. This is especially true of those who rely on psychological and ideological methods to produce results.

    Taking all of this into consideration, we see that we can only find ourselves, when we drop all the fake vestiges we attached over time for the purposes of our own interests. This is likely to reduce us to a blank slate, as far as identity is concerned, but that's not a bad thing; a blank slate is one on which you can write or draw anything you wish. Only when we eliminate those aspects of ourselves that conflict with this blank slate state, can we make ourselves whatever we want to be. Such a state requires a solid example, based on characteristics that cover both our own individual qualities, and traits we share in common with others. When we realize that this blank slate state can afford us the freedom to make choices based on the most prudent way of dealing with a situation, rather than fear or a desire for glory - we don't have to give up the fight, nor do we have to kill ourselves to look good, - we can effectively and successfully deal with any situation that comes our way, in a manner that benefits both ourselves, and others. We don't have to protect ourselves from the big, bad world around us; there's nothing to protect, in ourselves. We don't have to seek a position as the top dog in the pound; there's no "me" to seek that position, or deal with the baggage that comes along with it. When we make a mistake, we don't have to cause our own suffering or shame, to make up for it; there is no "me" to make the mistake, and a sacrifice of nothing yields no result. We don't have to wear ourselves out, seeking greater fame and adoration from others; there's no "me" to glorify. Best of all, as there's no "me" to conform to, we can choose what we conform to, if anything at all. We can be one person one moment, and another person the next, depending on the circumstances and the needs.

    This emptiness is no spiritual death; if anything, it opens us up to a spiritual form of life and freedom, as we can fully and objectively experience things. We are not blinded by the myopia of our prejudices, because we do not exist to form prejudices. We can make judgments that are based on facts and morality, rather than self-serving calls, since there is no self to serve. The greatest is the servant; so must we be, and we can be that servant, if we empty ourselves of our pride.

    This is the power we possess. Some of us empty ourselves of ourselves, so we can become proxies of our ideals, representing the graces that saved us from what might have been. I choose the ideals of love, justice, mercy, and equality. I choose the virtues of the empowerment of the people. All are equal, and all are capable, if only they would try. As Anyman, I am nobody of my own, so I can be anybody I choose, to anybody I choose. I can blend in, or stand out, since there is no me. I could be anyone, anywhere, at any time, doing anything, without exception, so my enemies don't know who, what, where, or when to target. It's a strategy that has suited spies and shinobi well, as well as the masked vigilantes of more modern mythos. Spring-Heeled Jack could be anybody. The Scarlet Pimpernel could be anybody. The Count of Monte Cristo could be anybody. Zorro could be anybody. Batman could be anybody. So could the Question. So could Rorschach. However, they all had to die to themselves, and be empty of what made them who the world believed them to be. The identities they use in their daily lives are just one more tool in their arsenal; a tool that helps them take care of themselves, so they can fulfill their calling. Bruce Wayne, Walter Kovacs, Vic Sage, they could all die; Batman, Rorschach, the Question... they will never die. Bruce, Walter, and Vic are all prepared to die, if thy must, but only when they must; they're not about to take a bullet, just to be in the news. That's also the power Anyman has: if you kill Anyman's host, proxy, or representative, another one or more will take his place. There could be any number of Anymen out there, and nobody would ever know. As they said in Men In Black: "Anonymity is your name; silence, your native tongue. You are them. You are they."

    I am Anyman. You are Anyman. Everyone, who believes in love, justice, mercy, and equality, is Anyman. That is our power. We are the people; we both have, and are, the power.