None So Blind

 

“Who are you?”

What seems to be, on its surface, a simple question, is in reality stunningly complex.  The more one thinks about the question, the more one truly understands its meaning, and the more one understands the information it tries to bring out of the respondent, the more time one has to take to truly answer it.  The question seems simple only because we think of it in simple terms.

To wit: the vast majority of my audience answer the question in my workshops by simply stating their names.  They then sit silently…waiting for my response.  I let the moment marinate, and stand silently with them for a while.  Then, as if the thought just struck me, I would push back with: “But what does your name mean?”  And there’s the rub….  Whether I asked the question in a staff training workshop, or a male youth training session, or in my classroom in an urban school system, the audience invariably flubbed its way through mumbled answers I could barely hear before finally shrugging their shoulders and sheepishly admitting: “I don’t know.”  

Every once in a while, someone would shout out with great pride: “My name means …!”  And all who answered in that way would beam at me with smiles from ear to ear, and go on to explain how they came to know the meaning of their names, and what it has meant to them to have that knowledge.  And, more often than not, the rest of the audience would shrug their shoulders again, or give the “know-it-all nerd” that look (you know the one).  But for just a few in the audience…I’d see that light begin to flicker in their eyes.  The very complexity of the question begins to dawn on them….

Sitting here reading this, you might find yourself asking: “So…what’s the big deal?  Who really goes about their day thinking about what their name means?  Like knowing that pays any bills or gets someone a job!”  And to that I have only one response:

There is none so blind as he who would not see.

I submit to you that the answer to the question “who are you?” is the single most important concept you will ever contemplate or articulate.  The answer to that question, so often lip-serviced with “my name is…”, is the answer that will not only pay your bills, and not only find you a job, but it will ultimately lead to to something much greater: your purpose.  I tell you here today that you can never answer “why am I here?” until you answer the first question first.

Steven means “Crowned One.”  If I didn’t know that, then how could I allow it to imbue my spirit with the royalty within me that I am always conscious to present to others?  If I didn’t know that I am “Crowned One,” then what compass could I use to orient myself on the vast landscape encompassed by my emotions, my mental state, my spirituality, my cultural roots, or my value system?  Not knowing that I am “Crowned One” is like looking at a map of all the “Steves” I could be without a compass rose.

Because I know what my name means, I am able to define for myself who I am, how I respond to situations, how I treat people, and yes…even how I look for work and pay my bills.  It defines how I make decisions.  I am royalty.  And I pay bills, look for work, talk to people and demand that they talk to me as though I am the living embodiment of my name.  Because I AM.  And that’s all part of my answer to the question.  My name is only the beginning….

More importantly, there is a grave danger to you if you don’t know how to answer the question with the complexity of answer it deserves.  If you cannot define who you are, then others will define you for you.  For instance, If you’re an African-American, you may be defined by others as an “N-word.”  Even worse, those who look like you may define you as the same thing, and tell you some garbage like: “well, WE spell it with an ‘a,’ so that’s different!”  Okay…go tell that to Malcolm X.  Explain to Dr. King how the “a” makes everything different.  Go tell it to Nat Turner.  Or Ida B. Wells.  Or Frederick Douglass.

“There are none so blind….”

And the same holds true no matter your race, gender, creed or cultural background.

So…

Who are you?

I ask it again.  And I sit here at my keyboard…waiting for your answer….

Sound Off!

Broadcast Your Inner Champion

 

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