Everywhere we look, we see badges. We're surrounded by them, bombarded by them and entranced by them. They're a part of our lives, almost from day one and they remain as such until the day we die.
First there the physical badges. We're all familiar with the ones police and other officials carry. Those are symbols of authority, of power. They give the person behind them a sense of control and it instills a sense of fear in those that are facing it.
But others carry badges too. Your weary cubicle dweller often needs a badge to get in his office. Others use badges to get inside their apartment buildings or communities. Badges also get us back stage at a concert, into our favorite club or wherever we want to go.
But then there are the more metaphorical badges. The badges of honor or shame that we wear on the inside. Though invisible, they too shine though in our smiles and our eyes and become just as distinctive as the ones we wear on our sleves and around our necks.
Finally, there’s the little things we do, our mannerisms, our clothes our hair, the hidden badges we carry with us day in and day out. The badges we don’t’ even realize that are there. The badges that we can't or don't take off, even as we sleep.
The only thing that these badges all have in common is that they define us. That they represent who we are on a fundamental level. Even the simplest badges identify us, tell others who we are and why we're there. They let others know, within the confines of a small square of plastic or an article of clothing, what we represent and why we should or shouldn't be allowed to do the things that we want.
And the bitter truth is that we all wear badges. It's a requirement in this society. There needs to be some representation of the self worn for others to see.
The problem is that most aren't careful about what they display, they take the badges handed to them by the world and wear them recklessly. They wear them to fit in, they wear them to feel like someone important and they wear them to do the things that they think they want.
Soon enough they find themselves wearing everything on their sleeves, their insecurities, their weaknesses and their desires. So eager to fit in and go everywhere, they tack on every badge they pick up and place them upon their sleeve. Very quickly, their badges either tell their full story, or fail to represent them at all depending on where they took their badges from and why.
So if we must wear badges, then let's wear them with pride. Lets be cautious about what we say and put out there and make sure we represent ourselves honestly, but proudly. Let's make our badges, literal and metaphorical, speak volumes about us but only what the world needs to hear.
After all, we're more than the sum of our badges and if we try to define ourselves with what we wear, both literally and metaphorically, we find ourselves portraying very two dimensional images of who we are.
So wear your badges proudly but be careful what they say. Let your true depth show through to those who know you best, the ones that can look past the badges you wear, and don’t cheapen your spirit by slathering it on your body for the world to see.
Our hearts are too valuable to be worn on our skin, the same as they’re too valuable to be tucked away in the darkness until the end of time….