We just finished watching Crusade, all 13 episodes. Crusade was a science fiction television program that followed on Babylon 5 after the Shadow War and Earth was seeded with a virus that would kill everyone in five years. The crew of the ship Excalibur were to find a cure for the plague. But that’s not why I’m mentioning the show. Every episode started with some questions:
Who are you?
What do you want?
Where are you going?
Who do you serve and Who do you trust?
Now on the surface these questions seem really simple ones that everyone could just answer off the top of their head without having to think. In fact, they are very serious questions — ones that deserve a lot of thought. I’ve been thinking of them off and on for days and I still don’t know how to answer them.
Who Are You?
The main character in the show answer with his name and, because he’s military, with his rank and where he’s stationed.
I believe most people would answer with their name. But is your name really ‘who’ you are? Many believe that your name defines you and if a person knows your true name then they can control you. Parents agonize over what name to pick for their child — afterall, you don’t want your child made fun of, or to insult some relative for not naming them after them and so on.
But after thinking about this question, I don’t believe a name really sums up a person. It doesn’t tell you their likes or dislikes or their joys, passions, interests, talents… the parts that make up the person. It may give you an idea of heritage if and only if the name reflects their heritage. But it doesn’t tell you how closely they hold their heritage in their hearts.
Many people would add their job title or position, but this also doesn’t tell you whether the person loves their job or whether it’s just a paycheck. Either way a job doesn’t define the person. You can’t really tell anything about a person just because they are a computer programmer, trash collector, waitress, writer, truck driver, or artist. It may help to pigeonhole someone but then I know that I don’t fit in a neat category or slot and I doubt very much that there are any people that actually do.
So, this question of “Who are You?” is not as simple as it seems on the face of it.
What Do You Want?
This is even more of a puzzler because if you don’t know who you are, how could you possibly know what you want. I think most of us could say that we want to be happy — just as a very broad sweeping wish for ourselves. But, dig deeper and my idea of happiness is probably not the same as anyone reading this blog. We might have some overlapping criteria but the specifics could be quite different. Some people want fame and riches. Some want only to see their children employed, no one ill, and enough money to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Is this “What do you want?” about achievements or emotional contentment and desires? Again not a simple questions.
Where Are You Going?
Is this simply asking for a destination or a goal? I’ve had a lot of goals in my life. Some I’ve come close to but, on approach, found that it wasn’t the ‘real’ goal that I wanted — that goal was something different. I still don’t know where I’m going but I’ve learned that, for me, the journey is the real joy, even when here and there along the way there’s a bit (or a lot) of heart-ache. My cancer diagnoses, over 14 years ago now, certainly changed the way that I looked at the future as well as the present. So, I guess, for me, I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ll take every day as it comes with the current goals that I have.
Now if this asks for a destination. I don’t have one. Maybe some people can say this is where I’m going and I’m nearly there but I guess I don’t have that clarity. Or maybe, I’m just thinking about this too much. But this also is not an easy question to answer.
Who Do You Serve and Who Do You Trust?
Think about this two-part question for a minute. Do you serve your boss? Your employing company? Your government? Your family? Your children? Your church? What exactly is meant by “Serve”? The same is true of “trust”. I trust my husband, my son, and some of my close friends. But when I broaden that circle as I go outward I’m not sure. Just think about everyday life — if you were in a life or death situation who could you call? That person would probably be someone you could trust. For most of us, those that we could count on to step up in an emergency are usually a much smaller subset of friends, family, or acquaintances. On the other hand, and isn’t there always another hand, you might be surprised to find who would be the people to step up in a crisis.
I’ve known people who were very surprised and shocked to find that their trust was only from them to others and there was no help forthcoming when they found themselves in a tight corner. Then help came, as it often does, from unexpected directions and people that they would have least expected to help them out. Such experiences can be surprising as well as heart-breaking, but they happen all the time and we often read such stories in the news — with either good or devastating results.
Again not an easy question to answer.
I’m not sure I really have answers to any of these simple questions. But, I’m still pondering the ramifications and potentials of these questions. As always, I’m interested in what others think. I’ve talked at length with my husband but what do you, my readers, think?