Who are you?—a deceivingly benign question. The more important question to ponder: how do you answer? How do you identify yourself? Does this identity align with how you subjectively act? Does it align with how others perceive you? The same questions stand posed to the St. Louis region. Soon others will demand an answer from us. Will we just speak, act, or both to indicate who we are?
A test run: I am Lou/Lois Doe and I am from St. Louis. A basic answer for outsiders but to those from the region it goes further: I am from West/North/South/Mid County/U. City/St. Louis/Ladue/Ferguson/Ballwin/Greendale/The Loop…etc.
An outsider will ask you about the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson or St. Louis sports. In the former case, you will shirk blame to another part of the region saying it is not that close to where you live. In the latter you will acrimoniously defend the city and its teams against anyone from Chicago who gets a little haughty.
So who are you? The person who bleeds blue, whose favorite bird is red, who is ornery about the Rams leaving, or the person who deflects the regions ills as somebody else’s problem? More importantly how do you act? Do you to visit the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Arch, the St. Louis City Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park of St. Louis?
Do you boast about how St. Louis such a great place to raise a family in to friends, colleagues, and strangers? Do you shake your head at riots and exclaim about how other people need to get their act together? Do you look in the mirror?
What we say we are and how we act occasionally stand world’s part. Identity broken apart is an entity-idea—an embodied idea. Subjectivity broken apart is subject-activity—actions. How we act and what identify ourselves as reciprocally influence each other. Yet lingering deeper, an unspoken feeling or belief of who we are—something so internal we rarely articulate it—rumbles about.
Picture it this way:
- What we define ourselves as.
- How we define ourselves.
- Why we define.
- Limbic Brain
Our perception of who we are, our reasons for that perception, and our actions driven by that perception do not necessarily align with why we act or how others perceive us. Each individual must introspectively question his or her beliefs. 'Why do I believe in St. Louis only half of the time?'
By coming together and questioning how we operate and why, together we can build a stronger St. Louis and a belief in a brighter future for our hometown.