Family of Man – Identity
This blog post is the first of a three-part series that might be entitled Family Tree or Family of Mankind. It is based upon an old folk tale about three beings – Willow, Branch, Leaf. There will be more on their story on part three. We are a few hours out after two bombings on the East coast of the United States of America. One was at the scene of a Marine Corp marathon which, quite fortunately, had a delayed starting time. The other was in a busy section of New York City, frequented more by locals than tourists. Both were not just attacks on those in the immediate area. They were attacks on the family tree of mankind.
Who are you? When I first began writing this blog, someone asked me that very question. Then I was asked to complete a profile and again, that question came up. What is your identity? More importantly, what do you want people to remember about you? In the second attack, a young lad gave up his seat in an ambulance to an older gentleman. Both were injured although thankfully not too seriously. I do not know the name of the young teen but I will forever remember his act of chivalry and generosity to his elder. For me his name is unimportant; his behavior tells a story of a marvelous human being.
We’ve discussed in past blog posts about “Who dat?” I know many New Orleans Saints NFL team fans want to believe they invented this phrase but, alas, history proves it predates the National Football League. It was first sung as a line in a song in an operetta written by Dunbar and Will Marion Cook entitled “Clorinda: the Origin of the Cakewalk”. It was presented as part of the 1898 “summer Nights” show produced by E. E. Rice.
US service men picked up the catchy phrase and it was often heard over plane radios as servicemen radioed each other. One of the lines of the original song asks a question we might all ask ourselves: “Who dat inside who’s dat outside; who’s dat inside who dat well outside?”
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, a man quoted in this blog from time to time, frequently asks not just his flock but his fellow human beings: “By what identity do we want to be known?” In other words, when it comes to believing and sharing God’s love, do we want to be picky and choose only certain ones?
George Orwell once wrote “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” No one wants to be an outsider. We all want acceptance. We all wonder what is on the other side of a closed door. The enticement of the unknown affects us all. Who do you want to be? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr wanted to be known as a man. He wanted his children to be just children, not identified by color but by their being. They had names, not shame. They were God’s own. Maybe not in the eyes of people way back when but now we mujst continue that fight for acceptance to all by all …Who dat?
Who are you? What do you believe? What is evidenced by how you live? I have to live my beliefs or else they are worth nothing. That is what gives me my identity. Not what someone else thinks or sanctions but my own actions. My identity is what I do, what I say, how I evidence my faith in my life.
We humans are a curious lot. I am certain someone famous has said that but tonight it is my own quote. In an effort to support and expand their own beliefs, these bombers are actually creating a schism with themselves and the world. The issue seems about who qualifies as being entitled to respect, love, and forgiveness…all those things we humans expect.
I do at times if these fanatics think they have invented a new breed of mammal. It really is not about who the outcasts are. It is completely about who we become with such decision. What identity do we then take on when we fail to recognize all as having a right to live? This is not living a life. To bomb innocents who you do not know and with whom you have no connection is to create a division for yourself. You become the enemy of not only the people who are your victims but also your own being.
Martin Luther King, Jr, had a dream that one day all people and children would be seen as just that – people and children. “Who dat inside who’s dat outside; who’s dat inside who dat well outside?” We cannot be well in our identity if we fail to see the inner soul and respond to the being within.
My identity is not that of any superior being. I am no better than another. Who dat? It’s me, a child of my creator, a child of the world, a child who still hears the echoes of Dr. King’s words. I, too, have a dream, a dream of a world in which respect is given to all living things. My identity is based upon equality. When it comes to acceptance, I don’t think anyone should be left outside. Who are you?