The Us Of Us
January 3rd, 2020
(published in The Daily Memphian)
So here we are at the beginning of 2020, a pivotal year in our history. As we strap in for what will surely be a bumpy ride, I think it’s amazing how far we’ve travelled from what we were just a few years ago. There was a “we” and an “us” to us, or as we say down here, an “all y’all” to y’all if not in reality at least inspirational. There are too many subtle shades of us to define us by color, yet we seem to be adopting a limited and ugly palette. There are too many varieties of us to be limited to labels, yet we seem to have narrowed it to three – me, the other, and them.
So, I thought I’d start the year by defining who I am, an exercise from a column I wrote at the beginning of this presidency.
I am Muslim.
I am a COGIC Hindu Jewish WASP Jehovah’s Witness. I am a Roman Catholic Buddhist Satanist Seventh Day Adventist and Latter-Day Saint. I am an Atheist Agnostic Humanist Evangelist. I am a Sunni Shia Christian Rastafarian Taoist Sikh. I am a Foot-Washing, Holy-Rolling Jain Spiritualist and whatever Lord Voldemort is – and I am not.
I believe that Karma is a bitch, and I believe in God and Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Yahweh and Ra, Voodoo, Vodou, Vodun and Vudu, and the Holy Spirit, the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka and Gitche Manitou, and whatever it is that Joel Osteen believes in – and I do not.
I am and believe any and all and none of those things, and that is my right.
I am a latte-sipping, pro-choice, Times-reading, bleeding-heart, civil-rights-whining, know-it-all, gun-toting, bible-quoting, beer-guzzling, tin-hat-wearing liberal conservative, elitist blue collar redneck suit, and climate-denying, pro-life, social activist skinhead, millennial boomer, pothead professional teetotaler, wrestling fan and champion of women’s rights and the far right left.
I am complicated.
I am African American African Aussie Latino Hispanic Anglo Native-American Scots-Irish Asian, and French Italian Peruvian on my mother’s side. I am Middle Eastern Eurasian Eskimo Russian Scandinavian Lithuanian Swiss Welch Haitian, and Basque German Portuguese on my father’s side.
I am human.
I live in the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt and the Grits Belt – and I take a belt now and again. I live on that coast and the other one, and on the shores of the Gulf and all the Great Lakes, and the ones not so great and all the rivers large and small, and in the swamp and in the valley, and on the mountain and this side of the wall. I live in the flyover, the done over, and the all but done. I live up there, down there, over there and out there, in town and in the country, in peace and in conflict, in certainty and in doubt, in wealth and in poverty – and less and less in between.
I am local.
I am a married heterosexual homophobic homosexual single tranny granny. I am a straight queer macho butch bisexual male biker in touch with my feminine side. I am a gender neutral transgender lesbian logger in a gay mood. I am a perfect gentleman and a real lady and a guy’s guy on a girl’s night out.
I am who I am, and my right to be is guaranteed.
I am equal to everyone by law. I am subject to no religious test by law. I am, whether just born here or just sworn in five minutes ago or tracing to the Mayflower, just as much a citizen as any other citizen by law. I am, whether in a tower or a cellar, boardroom or bordello, answerable to the law.
I am an American.
And because of all of that – all – I am a beacon to the world. When any of that – any – is denied, the light dims.
E pluribus unum.
I’m a Memphian, and an American.
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