To Be What One Is

It is the fashion today to encourage people "to be what they are." This is generally understood to mean that they should do what they feel inclined to do in their own way, speak frankly, and behave in whatever manner it seems humanly natural for them to behave.

The advice "be what you are" has a ring of integrity. At the first sound of it, one may be inclined to nod with approval. One may visualize the stripping of hypocrisy from thought and action, the shedding of pretense. This may seem an improvement on the conventional cover-up of a person's identity through custom and tradition, which often seem to smother progress and the fresh expression of individuality. It may appear to be a way to achieve much greater satisfaction and fulfillment than has been open to past generations.

You Don't Have to Be Lonely
December 15, 1973

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