Who are YOU? Seriously. This is not cursory chit-chat I'm inviting you to join. Not one of those "how-are-you-today" questions we toss the way of a colleague as we rush to the vending machine for an afternoon energy boost. Or the "what's-new-with-you" we utter to a friend while driving home from work with the cell phone stuck like gum between our ear and our shoulder. Really...who are YOU? Each of us will have to answer that question before we, Americans, can address who WE are because the WE must begin with ME.
My single friends and I joke that during the first three months of dating a new person, your "representatives" get acquainted. In many cases, the "representatives" are laughable facsimiles. They say, do, and offer all of the right things. But just as you prepare to ride off into the sunset on your Clydesdale, the body double shows up. And the question becomes: who are YOU?!
This might be the prevailing question of our time. I'm not suggesting it is a novel inquiry, but perhaps, the answer is more significant than ever. The headlines are filled these days with mass killings. From city halls to college campuses to job sites, people are killing like I have never witnessed in my 20 year career as a journalist. Many times the shooter is described as a good person, a good student, a hard worker. No one ever thought this would happen is what we hear in the aftermath of the bloodshed. So, as your eyes patrol the room where you reading this, do you wonder about the person sitting next to you, prompting you to ask: who are YOU?
The answer is multi-layered because who we are is not readily apparent. It's not the zip code where we live, the clothes we wear, the music we choose. Those are signifiers, shorthand for the way we would like to be identified. No. I believe we are the decisions we make. Not the ones we say we will make, but the ones we actually make. Think about it: each day is filled with opportunities to prove who we are. Now, having said that, here's the disclaimer for myself and every other human being: everybody has a bad day now and then...but years of bad days add up to ...well, you do the math.
As Americans, we are fascinated by those who keep their cool in a crisis...on the field, in the home, on the job. And as the sages say down south where I come from, if you haven't had to keep your cool when the heat is on, "Keep livin', honey". Maybe by then, you'll know who YOU are...if you don't already.