"Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so." In Yiddish, it can be boiled down to a single word: Mensch --- a kind, decent and reliable person, sensitive to other people's needs and seeking out ways to help them. In Judaism, to call someone a mensch is one of the highest compliments that can be given.
So who am I? In me, you will find a man of character whose principles don't change with the prevailing whims of popularity. Whose visage reflects all that's been taken in over the years; filled with gratitude to those who have had a role in that process, including the hurts and healing. All have brought me to this place and time and I give thanks, because those people and events aided me growing to know, like and most important, love the person I am and have yet to become and to be.
So who am I? I am a good man with a good heart. I am also an atheist whose heritage is Judaic. What I do is based upon what the right thing is regardless personal consequences. The following states it better: "What I do is done not in hope of being rewarded or fear of being punished. Again, I do these things because I know them to be right. I set my own standards and I, alone, enforce them." (source: Hammer the Gods) Yes, I repeat, I am an atheist and yes, I have integrity, morals and scruples and I live them.
Three Talmudic instructions guide me:
* Tikkun Olam: Repair and heal the world
* Tzedek, tzedek tirdorf: Righteousness, righteousness shall ye seek
* Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim: Acknowledge and prevent the suffering of living creatures, people and animals, for deliberately causing others pain darkens our souls.
So who am I? I will tell you the truth when it needs being said and I will do so gently and with love, care and concern. I am loyal. While we may disagree, yet I will not abandon you. I will stay by your side. I will be there for you, just as I have been there for others, sometimes at great cost to me, which mattered not, because those people have been there for me, or I know in my heart would and will be should ever I find myself in need. As I have done for them, for you my back will be your shield when you need protection. When you need bracing. I will be your pillar and I will hold you up.
So who am I? One who seeks that one true love. I know what it is to be betrayed in marriage, which is why being faithful is paramount. I know too what it is to be abandoned because I did not fit someone's definition of who they wanted me to be, rather than accepted for who I was, and am. Yet despite it all, still I believe in love.
So who am I? Someone who cares passionately for the well-being of others. One of my greatest joys is participating in a program called Care to Dance; a confederation of ballroom dancers who visit assisted living facilities whose residents are faced with memory and mental issues, as well as those with limited mobility. There are few things more beautiful than when a spark of recognition and joy comes to the faces of those who connect with the music and memories, even only fleeting. To know I have fulfilled a role, miniscule as it is, I am humbled.
So who am I? I'm the person who, as a journalist, puts on a stoic front but who is crumbling inside as I witness tragedies and injustices. Yet still I persevere to make things better for others, doing so with a joy, an exuberance for life. I laugh often, as well as make others around me laugh and be happy. In short, I take what I do seriously, but I take myself with a grain of salt, a huge grain of salt. (Incidentally, when it comes to happiness, joy and laughter, I love engaging in wordplay, especially puns, and my sense of humor ranges from the droll to the sardonic to slapstick.)
So who am I? A man rife with colorful yet positive contradictions. My nuances make the simple complex and vice versa. Content and confident in my skin, I know who I am, and what I want and what I need.
Now, am I someone you might want to meet?