Like snow in late April, there are any number of things that can make a person just sort of shake their head in confusion. Yesterday I read about a young woman who carried off a ruse of being a soldier who served in Afghanistan. She was honored at her old high school in Cass Lake. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Honor Guard was there to give her a tribal blanket and a feather to honor her service as a woman warrior. She had no ties whatsoever to any military branch.
My first instinct when reading about things like this is that there must be some illness involved. I believe too strongly in the goodness within people to think that anyone with a clear mind would do something like this. Who or what messed up her soul? How did the people in her life fail her so completely as to drive her to pretend to be something other than who she was?
I used to like to act. Shedding a new skin can be exhilarating- a free way to investigate a world not your own and a little applause and whooping for your efforts is kind of fun, too. But it can also feel creepy and uncomfortable if it's a role so completely out of who you are, and that's probably why I wasn't that great. My best performances came in roles that were closest to who I am so how much was I really acting?
This will be the time when old high school friends and my family will bring up my junior year in high school when I performed a dramatic cutting from " 'Night Mother". It's high on the drama- a little suicide attempt and bad mother-daughter mojo. The role of the screaming daughter worked for the hormonal, angst ridden teen that I was. It is only now, at 42, that I can look back with kindness at my 16 year old, sincere and driven self who wanted to share this daughter's pain with others. And while we call it "acting", truly that was my tortured soul at the time. I got over it, thank god.
This young woman, however, has a lot more going on than hormonal angst. She was estranged from her family and spent some time in the foster care system. One thing led to another and this idea for getting attention must have felt right and necessary to her somewhere along the line. People close to her were taken with her story and her success. Her own community believed it was possible. This speaks volumes for what we crave in our society--and that we crave it so much it becomes hard to determine what's real and what's not.
However sad it seems, her community appears well on their way to forgiveness. What, they asked, is wrong with being hopeful? Instead, they are turning their attention to many others who have served.
Perhaps this young woman will turn her attention to the facts of her own life, however painful, and those who care enough will help her. The best role she can play now is herself. Realizing who she really is and has been all along is will be a good place to start.