It used to be easy to communicate with libraries, banks and such. The people who worked there recognised us and greeted everyone cheerily. Our signature and our presence was enough for them to loan us a book or hand over our money. But you know how it is these days; everything has to be extremely secure. We need pin numbers, passwords, barcodes and usernames to operate in the modern world.
One reason for this was the advent of the internet. The owners of websites gave us a game to play: choose your very own password! What a ‘privilege’, especially when we wanted to know our own business! And they didn’t like us using the same gobbledegook concoction of symbols, numbers and letters to pass into every one. No, they had to be different…so ‘they’ said. We must never write them down on a piece of paper, either. So now we old fogies have to use our brains and remember them all!
Paying bills at the post office could soon be a thing of the past and libraries might become a relic of bygone days for our great-grandchildren. I’ve heard that many people miss the familiar faces at the bank when they’re keying in their pin numbers at the machine on the wall outside. Some are in fear of losing their money and believe it or not, their identity. Does that mean we mightn’t know who we are?
It appears that this thing called identity is our most valuable possession. It can even be stolen! Has it always been such a problem for mankind? Cain was worried about the dangers he might be in because he’d murdered his brother Abel, but God promised to put a mark on him so people would know his identity.
These questions made me wonder about the fragility and real meaning of identity, especially my own. Who am I? How do other people see me? Am I unique? Even that capital I makes me special as I’m the only one who can use it for myself. I do see a few lower-case instances of it in emails, but are they intentional, or merely hasty typos?
I have my own birthdate, shared with millions of others, I presume, but not all living at the same time, surely. And there is my peculiar combination of quirks and other subtle differences, including my distinct voice and body language. Yes, my fingerprints and DNA are unique and it might be difficult to replicate my particular mix of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. So why are people so keen to steal the identities of others?
I wonder if any of you would care to swap identities with me. Or would you prefer to take only a few pieces of my personality, my bank details or a password or two? Maybe I shouldn’t have asked you that question!!
As I pondered this potentially disruptive exercise, I felt a poem coming on – my default response when faced with such a dilemma!
In frustration after gestation
I was left a multitude of facets
skin colour, eyes and hair, personality traits
skills, limits, behaviours, character
facts I can’t deny
can they take these away from me?
I’m a miracle, integral, special
formed well for the journey
what word ensures a joyful passage from this earthly life?
only one is provided
shared by all, unknown to many
it’s Jesus’ identity formed in me
heaven’s unique password
Lyn Thiele ~ October 2016