We often seek identity in our circumstance. The word circumstance stems from Latin proposition word circum, which means “around,” and the verb stare, which means “to stand.” A circumstance is that which stands around you, your surroundings, your context.
Look around you for a moment. Notice what’s around you. Perhaps you’re at home with a laptop on your knees, a cup of tea at your side. Or maybe you are at work, looking at a computer screen with this very text on it. Or maybe you’re in a subway car reading this post on your smart phone…
No matter where you are, remember that you are not this physical context—you are that which it surrounds. That’s obvious. What’s less obvious is that you are not your cultural, ethnic, sociological, or racial circumstance either. Whatever your situational context, you are not your situation.
Culture of One
As long as there are individuals, there will be individual differences.
As long as there are individual differences, there will be differences in social and economic power.
As long as there are socio-economic differences, there will be groupings and clusterings of these differences.
And as long as there are groupings and clusterings of socio-economic differences, there will be social classes.
To sum up, as long as there are individuals, there will be classes of individuals.
There are no classless societies, but there are people who don’t stereotype themselves.
You are not your birth circumstance. You are not your class, not your caste, not your social status. These categories are simply information about your social standing. But you aren’t where you stand. You aren’t a cultural or sociological coordinate. A king isn’t a king, a queen isn’t a queen, an aristocrat isn’t an aristocrat, a slave isn’t a slave, an untouchable isn’t an untouchable. You aren’t old money. You aren’t new money. You aren’t a scion. You aren’t a welfare mom. This is all background. You are the figure in front of it. You aren’t the group, you are an individual. Group identification is informational bondage. Group identity turns the unique into a cliché.
Why not emancipate yourself from the informational ball and chain of social typecasting? Break the chains of group identification. Write down whatever social construction that you identify yourself with, using the “I = such-and-such” form. Now close your eyes, look inside, and notice you. Open your eyes: see the difference.
Decisively cross out all these identifications using the “I =/= such-and-such” form, one after another. Wipe the mirror of your conciousness clean of all this self-stereotyping.
Conclude: I am not my caste, class, clique, social rank, or social standing. I am not a socio-economic cliché. I am not a cultural stereotype. I am not my context.
Recognize that a culture of one is a culture of oneness.
Pavel, not this, not that
Adapted from Lotus Effect
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Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011