“We know what we are, but not what we may become.” ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet
As I watched the James Comey hearing yesterday, I kept thinking about this quote from Hamlet. Mr. Comey’s testimony showed that he always does what he thinks is the right thing to do given the information he has. He’s a man who sticks to his principles even when he knows he will pay a personal price for following them. He stands for something and therefore falls for nothing. He cares much more about the truth and the law than he does about politics and power. And in Washington, sadly, that is a difficult thing to do. He’s paid the price personally and professionally, and still stands by his decisions. That’s something to be admired, even though I don’t agree with his choices.
Nearly 7 months to the day, Comey transformed from being the person who single-handedly altered the outcome of the Presidential election to someone who may render the Trump presidency one of the shortest in history. It’s unclear if any of that will come to pass, but it made me think about our sense of identity, purpose, and perception.
What we do and who we are right now doesn’t predict who we’ll become or what we’ll be doing tomorrow. One minute, Mr. Comey was the Director of the FBI and arguably one of the most powerful people in the world. With the stroke of a pen, he was returned to private life and sat before a Senate committee to tell the world he didn’t trust the President’s intent and questioned his sense of judgement. All within 7 months. That’s a remarkable about-face to make in his career and in his life.
What I keep coming back to is his conviction and his refusal to do anything less than protect his country in the best way he could. If that meant being fired, then so be it. If that meant enduring endless scrutiny by the public, politicians, and the press, then bring it on. It takes courage to live today so authentically that it may drastically alter our tomorrow. Mr. Comey showed us it can, and must, be done.