V. The Truths We Live: Doing = Being
The leap from an action to a difference of being
There is no type of person someone supposedly “is” because they have a preference for oranges. That actions, preferences or appearances are sometimes interpreted as a person being different indicate that the differences are seen as significant enough to imply many other things about a person’s character.
Regarding sexual attraction, it is only because of what preferences “make you” that a person’s sexual preference is relevant to society. Maybe you don’t remember but you can imagine the first time you heard someone in elementary school explain what a “gay” or a “fag” was. Think about the contempt in the older kid’s voice. Without knowing why we should feel that way, we immediately understand that it is something bad that needs to be avoided or shunned. This is why people end up closeted, denying and being ashamed of what they really feel, not because there are negative consequences of a person’s sexual preference, but because the ‘type’ of person you ‘become’ by having alternate preferences is a mental location, a well, so to speak, that has been poisoned for centuries.
By identifying with a category we don’t take on what meaning we see in it, but whatever meanings are held by anyone looking through the category at us.
Religions have played a huge role in this, but the stigma has carried on even to people who don’t follow those traditions. So for some from a religious tradition, they might stigmatize sexual preference because their teachings call it a sin, but for someone who isn’t religious, it’s just an inheritance, a position they absorbed from their social environment, an intolerance that is completely arbitrary and only possible because of this “type” connecting countless individuals and making them all one thing, that can be valued in one way.
The only reason a kid knows to persecute some other person they’ve never met, based on preferences that don’t affect them is because of how categories come to hold unrelated meanings. By unrelated I mean, not caused by ‘being’ a certain type and not exclusive to someone who supposedly is that type.
Because of the logic of categories, even if one does not discriminate, by referring to other people through a label, is to put a bull’s-eye on their back, for them to be understood through associations that may have nothing to do with them, valuations they have not earned.
In this society it is believed that liking someone of the same sex, which where its the case is a fact, is the same as you “being” a different type of person–this is an idea. People defend the use of these type of categories, saying we need them to understand but, someone saying “I like men” is one hundred percent explanatory.
What defenders of this system miss, is how the meanings attached to categories alters the data of our experience. People end up acting on the basis of what they will be or not be, based on the social value they will derive, rather than what they would ordinarily do. Concealing sexuality is the most obvious example, and it then seems abnormal to have same-sex preference because so few people are willing to explore that possibility within themselves or reveal it to the world.
If everything we liked and thought didn’t result in us “being’ some or other politicized type of person, we would express and seek what actually called to us, rather than following the script of what we think our peers will value.
The abstract divisions of humanity inherently feed the ego pattern of making one’s idea better, by making someone else’s less. From there human possibility becomes imprisoned, “theirs” or “ours”, people cease to live in the world of cause and effect, what each specific thought and action does, but rather from a shared label that hides what are in reality different stories. Ideas, practices, policies, can be dismissed with a single word without observers evening knowing what is behind it.
Hippy, Socialism, Muslim. Two people called, or calling themselves, the same thing, as a result of some visual or philosophical sign, may have radically diverging relationships to what they are doing, what concepts or rituals they are employing. The idea of types of people does not make the world more clear, it makes it less clear because the type is our explanation that generally leads us no further. This thought system leaves us on only the surface of the world. If however people expressed things in terms of “I think __”, rather than “I am ___” we achieve far more precision, more clarity from which to understand each other and hopefully work from.