Everywhere you turn, you’ll find people eager to tell you what your path is.
You must be a Christian. And not just any kind of Christian, but a Christian who sings like this. And baptizes like this. And takes communion this often. And gives this much money. And includes these people. And tolerates these. And excludes these. And tells them so. And tells them why.
Or — you must have Gay Pride (TM). You must be out to everyone. You must stay closeted, because, if you came out, Mama would die. You must have tattoos and piercings. You must classify yourself as a bear, a twink, a Daddy, a leather man, a bottom, a top. You must be an ardent supporter of hate crimes legislation. You must call other gay men “girl.” You must decorate your home and yourself with cheap and disposable rainbow-hued consumables. You must be monogamous. You must be promiscuous. You must embody stereotypes. You must rise above them.
Or — you must be a Democrat. Or a Republican. Or for McCain (to support the troops) or for Obama (to encourage the terrorists) … or against McCain (to stop the country’s downward spiral) or against Obama (to keep the White House white). You must be patriotic by supporting the war. You must be patriotic by opposing it. You must see yourself as a soccer mom or a Joe Six-Pack. You must be suspicious of the intellectual elite. You must not believe the liberal media. Only Fox News is fair and balanced.
Or — you must be as reliable as you’ve always been. Or just as loving. Or just as dishonest. Or just as untrustworthy. Or just as brilliant. Or just as irresponsible. You must be more like your brother, or like your cousin Ed, or like your preacher, or like Christ, or like the Buddha. You must be more ambitious. You must be more successful. You must make more money. You’d be a fool to quit your job in this economy. You need to get your head out of the clouds. You need to be practical. You need to be less serious. You must be politically correct. You must be environmentally conscious.
On television … at work … at church … at the office … talking heads, spouting sound bytes and pithy sayings, yammer on and on and about what you should think and why.
What would happen if you shut them out? What would happen if you ignored them completely?
What would happen if you withdrew to a quiet place … and decided, just for today, to be completely and uniquely you?
What would happen if you suspended judgement? What would happen if you gave yourself — and everyone else — the benefit of the doubt? What would happen if, just for today, you “worked out your own salvation”? What would happen if you trusted God to speak for God?
What would happen if, just for today, you took a deep breath, and listened for your own thoughts and opinions? What would happen if, instead of parroting what you’ve heard or read or been told, you gave your own ideas a voice?
Don’t do it for me. I’m just another talking head.
Do it for you. Be you.
After all: if you’re not you … who will be?