Be Yourself and Be at Home

Home is the metaphysical and built environment that surrounds you and that you reside in. Home can be real and imagined places and spaces. It can be a mental state that you go into to find assurance, refuge, and peace. Oftentimes, the houses that people pay so much for are not their homes. The dominant reason for this is they have not allowed themselves to construct a meaningful notion or notions of home. A house will not just automatically be a home. This is also true about being at home in your personal life. It will not be until you embrace being yourself that you will find your home. Far too many people are living lives that are not the lives that they want to live because they are uncomfortable with engendering ideas of home that challenge the status quo. Many people lack the courage to create a notion of home that would offer an alternative to the phony notion(s) of home that they currently enact and employ. At the end of the day, people must understand that they will never find a true home until they are willing to love being themselves—their true selves. In The Principle of Hope, Ernst Bloch refers to “a homeland of identity” in discussing the idea of utopia. I contend that you can find your “homeland of identity” when you are willing to be yourself.

Never allow yourself to have low self-esteem. You should feel proud of yourself—there’s no one like you. Recognize your value. You must be willing to live your own life and not the life that your mother, father, friends, and/or society expects and demands you to live. You will never be at home when you live the life that others want you to live.

Although I know it’s cliché to say that home is where the heart is, it is really true that you will find your home when you are courageous enough to live like your heart wants you to live. It will take true courage, however. Unfortunately, I don’t know too many people who I’m around or too many people that I’m not around who are willing to simply be themselves. Most of the people who I’m around are living the lives that their parents want them to live and that society’s traditional expectations for them induce them to live. Most of them lack the courage to dream a different possibility for their lives. Most of them lack the courage to live a life that is truly representative of who they want to be.

When you start seriously contemplating about what home is, you will be truly unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused. The reason for this is you will be forced to think about the various falsehoods in your life and how much time, energy, and effort you invest in trying to make them appear as real. You can always tell those folk who don’t have a home—they are always uptight, always performing, always masking, always seeking attention, always being inauthentic, always uncomfortable, always getting on the bandwagon, always trying to show people how they are just like them, and etc.

You will be homeless when you elect to live a life that is fusions of multiple identities that are truly alien to the identity you truly long to embrace, but lack the courage to embrace it.

Under all that skin, who are you really? Behind all of that performing, who are you really? Taking away all those falsehoods, who are you really? The world needs to know who you really are. Why is it that you feel that you must perform for your public audiences when you really want to act like you do with your private audiences? I contend that most people are not living but are just performing.

The people who matter and who have mattered have been those folk who have been able to muster the courage to be themselves. When you are not willing to be yourself, you will wonder lost without a home. When you are not willing to be yourself, you will constantly be at war with yourself. It will appear that you are actually fighting with your own body. Life has to be so miserable living a life that others want you to live and not the life you want to live.

Find true happiness. Find yourself. Find your homeland of identity. Find home.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Being a Teacher

I understand my position as a teacher to be more than a profession–it’s a vocation, a calling to embark upon a persistent perilous quest to seek Truth and Justice. Being a teacher, for me, is a Socratic and prophetic calling. As teachers, we have to be Socratic witnesses. We have to expose falsehoods. If you are wondering if you have to be a professional teacher, that is, have a formal career as a teacher to be considered a teacher, you do not have to. We all can be teachers if we are willing to pursue and propagate paideia (education/knowledge/ instruction).

When will we reach a time when there is a willingness to challenge false appearances of Truth? When will we reach a time when there is a willingness to challenge authority and harmful dimensions of the status quo. I remain skeptical but hopeful that individuals like me will continue to hold people accountable to reach this moment and willingness.

I understand that the purpose of education is to teach you how to die. You have only a short time to live on Earth, and you must determine how you are going to use this time before you return to dirt and feces. As a teacher, I make sure that people understand the importance of thinking critically for themselves, avoiding the limitations of stereotypes, harmful prejudices, discrimination, racism, White supremacy, Jim and Jane Crowism, and bigotry. I wish that all teachers would join me in this effort. We would live in such a better world, with more peace and harmony.

In short, teaching for me is about advancing other people. This does not mean that you will not have to challenge, upset, and criticize them in the process of advancing them–you will–it means you will need to do all that is necessary to bring out the greatest potential in them. People cannot grow when they are weighed down with ignorance and falsehoods. This is the moment for us to seek Truth and Justice. In order to do this, we must do what Dr. Joyce L. Cherry once said, “Pull the hoods and sheets off your head and expose you for who you really are.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison