I'm a human being, how about you?

I wonder how many of our problems stem from the boxes we check in our minds? The boxes we use to identify who we are, to define ourselves. The same boxes we use to define who they are:

“I’m a [political party of choice]”

“I’m a [gender identification]”

“I’m a [job title / hobby / sport of choice]”

“I’m [sexual orientation]”

“I’m pro- [political/wedge issue]”

“I’m a [family of origin]”

“I’m a [spiritual view]”

“I’m a [school attended] graduate”

“I’m a [dietary choices]”

“I’m a [insert ancestry]”

In the absence of real tribes, is this how we’ve come to feel safe in the world? To feel we understand ourselves and where we belong? 

These boxes we check make our complex, rapidly changing, often-overwhelming modern world easier. 

Or so it seems. If I know what boxes to check, I know what to believe. How to feel. Who to trust. How to act. Who to like. How to vote. I can even put stickers on my car: “Proud X” or signs in my garage “X parking only” to affirm which box I belong to—to remind me I do belong, and to burrow into thost identifications more deeply. To let the world know just where I stand. 

And in a world where 101 kinds of milk (and milk alternatives!) line the dairy aisle, these boxes seem to simplify. Once I’ve checked the box, I know what to think...right? I could even stop thinking and just move on. I mean really, keeping a continuously open mind and an open heart means opening the door to even more questions. Big questions. Uncertainty. If I start to question my boxes, my labels, or even let go of them, what do I have left?

Who am I?

Asking that take bravery. Letting go of one’s “box tribe” is akin to being a pioneer in a pathless wood. 

But that’s where the best discoveries and the richest ways of living lie. 

We’ll never find the real answers to the real questions until we step out of our boxes. Until we connect with our hearts. Until we stop identifying with labels and start seeing ourselves and others for our deeper qualities: kind, respectful, courageous, honest, patient, open-minded, creative, thoughtful, loving and so on. 

Life can be much more graceful, genuine, meaningful and free without restrictive, cumbersome boxes to lug around. We are all being called to let them go and start living from the heart. That’s where we connect with who we really are. That’s where we connect with others for who they really are—heart to heart. 

Perhaps that call to live from the heart is the higher purpose in how interconnected our world has become. Perhaps there is a bigger story underway when people uproot, say goodbye to the homes they’ve always known and spread out across the country or across the globe. 

All the change and all the upheaval means our ideas about living and thinking and believing are opening up and mingling together around the planet. It means we have to create new forms of community and rely on one another in new ways. It means we can develop entirely new ways of being. 

In the end, these times may be here to show us that we are, indeed, one human family.

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