I am human, a member of the species Homo Sapiens, the most advanced of over eight million species on earth. The species with the most developed pre-frontal cortex, allowing the greatest freedom of choice, and with linguistic adaptability that allows development of complex language. Live birth; opposable thumbs; upright bipedal mobility; et cetera.
I am male, with an X and Y chromosome that is characteristic of approximately one-half of the human species. Generally understood as the larger and stronger gender, that tends to exhibit more aggressive behavior while promoting societal structures to ensure dominance and oppression of others. Testosterone dominant; procreation inseminator; menstruation absent; et cetera.
I am white, Caucasian, Caucasoid, or Europid, depending on the racial classification that one prefers. According to the oral family history from my parents, my personal ancestral research, and DNA testing by Ancestory.com, I am of Swedish, Irish, and northern European heritage. Light brown hair; baby blue eyes; fair freckled skin; et cetera.
I am tall, experiencing the world from a slightly higher vantage point than most. Throughout my life I have been largely defined by my tall physical stature, a characteristic decisively situated on the nature side of the great debate. Purchased clothes from a special rack; almost impossible to blend-in; athletically advantaged; et cetera.
I am American. Yet not as the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Citizen of a construct defined by the Constitution of the United States of America, conceived and enacted by an assembly of European immigrant men for a defined geographic region within nature’s earth. Naturalized citizen; guaranteed civil liberties; unlimited opportunity; et cetera.
I am a Citizen of the World. Born one of almost three billion, today the number of fellow citizens approaches eight billion. Within this amazing universe in which I live, it is my global citizenship that most precisely defines my primary community. Fellow citizens who experience joy and sadness; love and hate; fear and comfort; et cetera.
I am a Person of Faith. Recognizing that human knowledge is limited and am not ashamed or afraid to embrace meanings based on faith. All the while, not ascribing to faith a pseudo-empirical understanding based on a private conversation with the divine. I am one who understands that faith and knowledge are antithetical and that humans have far less knowledge than is claimed. One who believes that faith is essential for all humans as a means of pursuing a higher order.
I am a Christian. Embracing a faith that helps negotiate the uncertainties of life, while engaging it in a positive procreative manner. A faith guided by the teachings of Christ, as reflected in the beatitudes, not one that brandishes the scripture as a weapon to judge, shame, exclude, or kill. A Christian faith that views the sacred Christian canon in context of Christ; not one in which Christ is interpreted in context of Old Testament Law or Pauline Epistles.
I am an Educator. Believing that the future of the present world, and the world yet to be inhabited, is intricately tied to the education of human youth. One who acknowledges the triune nature of humans as body, mind, and spirit and believes that education is morally superior to, and distinctly different from, indoctrination. Who believes that all humans are capable of learning and that one’s fullest potential is achieved within an ethical framework of thought and problem solving.
As a result…
I am comfortable. Not in terms of complacency or lacking initiative, but in the basic sense. I have only experienced hunger due to poor planning, lack of appropriate currency to purchase food, or an intentional fast. I live in a comfortable home, considered average in my neighborhood, yet by global standards borders on ostentatious. I have maintained steady employment; have a loving family; respect from peers; and high levels of intellectual stimulation from academic pursuit. I have enjoyed good health, and although one cannot perfectly forecast future illness or accidents, genetic and health indicators project for me a long and moderately healthy life.
I am grateful. For a loving family, opportunities to learn, people that have opened doors of opportunity, and good health. Grateful for the myriad of greetings I have received and the opportunities I’ve had to explore the world. I am grateful to count as friends so many of my fellow citizens within the global community. I am grateful for all good things that I have experienced in my life, yet, I am conflicted by opportunities resulting from a zero-sum condition. It somehow feels immoral to label as blessings those benefits that are results of societal oppression of others. For these, I am apologetic.
I am privileged. Far beyond most of my fellow global citizens. Privilege is not a dichotomous condition, but rather is multivariate. A condition most often defined by variables out of one’s control. Variables that impact opportunities, from genetic predispositions as well as societal positions into which one is born. Although not possessing high levels on all opportunity and privilege variables, on the continuum of privilege I am very privileged. Genetically slated with physical stature that provided me greater athletic opportunities and often engendered more favorable social and professional reception from others. I am privileged to have been born into a family where my fullest intellectual and physical potential could be realized. I also experienced gestation free of in utero exposure to illicit chemicals or drugs, parental boundaries, appropriate nutrition, good teachers, and caring mentors. I have lived as one who matches the racial and gender profile of the dominant ruling group, in the most prosperous and opportunistic nation in the history of humankind. As such, it would be dishonest, or at best disingenuous, to not acknowledge my privilege.
I am responsible. Entirely proportionate with my privilege. If I accept that ‘from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded,’ I have no choice but to accept my responsibility in direct proportion to my privilege. For me to do otherwise would be an expression of arrogance and ungratefulness. It is in my accepting responsibility that my gratefulness is fully manifest and my arrogance dissipates. Likewise, responsibility is the result when considering the Kingdom of God, as referenced in scripture. A kingdom that is adversative to the self-centered, greedy, lustful, and controlling attitude that characterizes the worst of the human condition. For when I pray as Christ taught his disciples, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,’ responsibility for actions that will advance the Kingdom of God is a natural consequence. Responsibility that is sacred, not merely civic. Responsibility that calls to action and is intentional. Responsibility to serve the least of these. To be a voice for the voiceless; to empower the dependent; to lend strength to the weak. Responsibility to do all that I can so that who I am, and who I am meant to be, are one and the same.