Who are you - a paramedic, a soldier, a nurse, a banker,
a stock broker, a teacher, a policeman, a farmer . . . is
that who you are? If it is, you're a fool.
I suppose that sounds a bit rude, especially after the
events of September 11, 2001, when this country suddenly
fell in love with our military, policemen, firemen and paramedics.
If you make your living running into burning buildings,
Lord knows you have my respect and admiration, but if that's
who you are you're a fool.
I was a never a fireman - I never had the nerve, but I
was a medic in the military, a civilian paramedic and a
federal law enforcement officer. I was also foolish enough
to believe that is who I was - until life handed me a real
job, until I took on real responsibilities, until I got
married, was blessed with children and became someone really
The world would be significantly improved if mothers,
fathers, wives and husbands came to realize that those other
things are just jobs. Your job is not who you are - it's
Banker, teacher, soldier or fireman - it's nothing but
an ever-loving hat that you wear. It's not even your hat;
they hand you that hat, and pay you to wear it, but they
only let you wear it for a while. One day, no matter how
maginificent you looked in that hat, or how faithfully and
well you wore it, the time will come to take it off and
pass it on. Someone else will wear your hat and you know
what, the Earth won't stop spinning and the world won't
come to an end!
The fact is, the day you quit or retire, someone else will
wear the hat that meant so much to you. That very
same day, someone else will sit in your chair and
decide who gets what loan, grade Mary's homework or advise
Ethel Razabadowski how she should best protect her retirement
nest egg. In your mind, you want to believe that you will
leave an enormous hole when you go - you can see that hole
now if you like.
Just stick your finger in a pool of water and pull it out.
That hole is all the hole that you'll leave.
If your significance on this planet is defined by a hat,
how foolish is that! How many of us have subordinated our
children, our spouses, our friends and families to a hat?
Excuse me? Surely you're not going to hand me that song
and dance about the "dog eat dog world out there,"
responsibility, feeding the family, the roof over the head.
. . . no, don't play that song for me.
Show me what the final figure is - what would it cost you,
after taxes, to spend a couple of hours at the park throwing
a ball around with the kids? Hand me your daily book - I've
got a red pen. I just bet I can reschedule your "pressing
engagements" so you can make it to the school play.
The average father spends less than an hour a month
actually talking to his children - what kind of nonsense
is that? Do you know who your daughter's teachers are? When
was the last time you had lunch in a school cafeteria? Has
your son ever run with a ball when you weren't there to
watch? Can your daughter sing? Do you consider yourself
to be a "Family Man?"
Fathers have always been the worst offenders, but moms
aren't doing much better these days. Caught up in career
objectives, we've totally abdicated our responsibilities
to ourselves, our children and each other. Husbands, wives
and parents, we've chosen to abandon our lives and our families
for the sake of a hat.
As in all things, there are exceptions; sea duty for example.
If you're military obligation puts you out to sea, or on
some sand dune for months on end, there are things you just