Saturday, January 14, 2012

Are you a Something or a Someone?

Are you Gay or Strait?  White, Black, Asian or Other?  Male or Female?  Are you a Soldier Fighter-fighter, Policeman, Office Worker Tattoo Artist or any of a myriad of professions?  Are you Liberal or Conservative?  Are you Christian, Jew Muslim, Hindi, or Atheist?  Chances are there are a ton of things you use to identify yourself.  Any number of adjectives could be used to describe an individual.  We do a lot of things that define us, these are all Things.  Things own, Things we are that define us.

"I am a [insert group or description here] man/woman/other"

these statements are all about who we are as we present ourselves to others.  Does it have to be that way?  Barney Frank is all about being Gay.  So are a ton of other people.  But what about Jody Foster?  She's pretty well clear that she's Gay, but its not WHO she is.  The same could be said about Neil Patrick Harris.  Anyone that's seen any of the Harold and Kumar movies or How I Met Your Mother can tell that though he's gay its not Who he is, its something he happens to be.

The same could be said about race.  Look at Jessie Jackson, or Maxine Waters.  Believe me there is a ton of things that they feel are important, mostly that Black men and women are getting screwed, and more often than not its your fault.  Now look at Allen West.  Here is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, his career is long and illustrious, which ended when he made a call under extreme stress, a call that if placed in a similar situation a lot of arm chair generals, despite saying otherwise would probably have made the same call.  Now he's a US Representative, and despite being a "Freshman" has managed to elbow his way to the forefront of a lot of policy matters.  He also happens to be a Black man.

See the difference?  What you are is not Who you are.  I was a Soldier.  I know how powerful it can be to be a Something.  That Uniform defined me.  I did not want to think of life outside the Army because being a soldier became who I was.  It doesn't matter what label you choose to identify with, what role you fill in your life can easily become your defining characteristic.  When something gives you purpose it can easily become your purpose.

Perhaps America could best solve its problems by first solving its outlook.  We run around looking for things to define us.  How about we just be.  Instead of trying to say "I am [insert something]"  Say simply "I am [insert name]"  All the rest can come later.  Remember these things are What you are, not Who you are.

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