“Who Am I, If Not This?”

“Who Am I, If Not This?” February 16, 2016

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

So last week, I’m talking during a break to a coworker who wants to be a counselor, and she’s telling me she wants to help people define their identity. She said that a few months ago she was in a car accident, and for weeks she couldn’t work out. And working out was her identity — without that she didn’t know who she was. She had to find something deeper than that that would never leave her, and she found it in God. It was a gift. No matter what happened to her, she’d have this core she could hold onto.

To this atheist, in spite of the problems I have with God, there was something beautiful there.

Just now I saw Ronda Rousey being interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres about her defeat to Holly Holm. And she said that when she fell to the ground, she wanted to kill herself. Because, she said, who was she if not the UFC undefeated champion? Who was going to listen to her or pay attention to her?

And I saw, then, that all those hours in the gym, all the hell Ronda Rousey went through to get to where she is, all that hard work…so much of it was because she wanted to be heard, to be seen as someone worth living.

What kept her going, though, was what she wanted — she wanted to have her boyfriend’s children, for them to have a life together. And him sticking by her side — that helped her through.

But not everyone is so lucky. And some people were, as the Journey song goes, “born to sing the blues.” What about those people?

What if I become one of those people? Will anyone care about me? Will I be so desperate for a friend that I’ll have to make one up?

This had me thinking about Christianity. Christianity solves one basic problem — it says that even if you’re a nobody, you can be someone with worth and value. And I want to believe that is true. I’m not a Christian. But I want to believe that even if I lose all my value, someone will still think I’m worth it.

So…in that sense, as an atheist, I feel like I have to take the place of God, in a way — not in the bigoted myth of the Bible, but in the way the myth has made some people feel safe and secure regardless of their status. It’s hard. It’s a sometimes thankless pursuit. But I don’t really do it just for the other person. I do it for me, to try to convince myself that it is possible to love even the people on the outskirts of humanity. I don’t always do it. But I’d like to convince myself it’s possible, so I try.

So…Yeah. That’s it. Just wanted to share that page of my diary with you.

Thanks for listening.


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