“Who does she think she is, anyway?” you hear a friend saying. “She’s not so special. Her marriage is failing/her career is in shambles/her relationship with her children is terrible. What makes her qualified to give advice about motherhood/marriage/friendship/life?”
Does that sound familiar? Maybe it’s something you’ve heard someone else say, or something you’ve said yourself. It’s pretty common to hear people gossiping about each other and bringing people that seem a bit too big for their britches “down to size.”
Do we feel the need to bring others “down to size” because we afraid to lift ourselves up to a higher level? Do we speak derogatorily and dismissively of others’ actions because we are afraid of what people would say about us if we were to act in such a way? Are we letting our selfish insecurities get in the way of the progress this world so desperately needs?
Why don’t we lift each other up, instead?
Maybe it’s a case of misdirected fear. Maybe we think that we, ourselves, aren’t anything special, so we point fingers at other people and say that they aren’t qualified, either.
Or, maybe we have a bit of an ego problem.
Arrogance is defined as an offensive display of superiority or self-importance. We often view this in terms of the person with an inflated sense of self who thinks more highly of him/herself than is appropriate. Yet, it is equally as offensive to think so little of yourself as to do nothing about problems of the world and live your life with an entitled attitude that others are responsible for doing the messy work of improving the world. It’s arrogant to sit aside and point fingers rather than humble yourself enough to learn, grow, adapt, listen, work and change the world.
Many of us think that we aren’t qualified enough, special enough or just plain good enough to do something about the problems in the world. Instead, we look at the issues in the world and we wonder when someone else is going to do something. Yet, too often, when someone else takes action or shows that they are brave enough to address an issue, we dismiss them for being arrogant or under-qualified. We squash down them and their stupid ideas. Meanwhile, we keep complaining and blaming and pointing fingers.
This exact scenario is happening in America right now as the world watches the response of some brilliant brave teenagers that faced the worst tragedy of their lives last week. After witnessing a gunman murder 17 of their peers in cold blood, students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have decided to speak out and take action to prevent such a shooting to occur again. In just one week, they’ve spoken out on national media, they’ve visited the White House, they’ve participated in a town hall with state leaders and representatives from the NRA, and they’ve been instrumental in arranging multiple marches and walk-outs to make changes in their community and in this nation.
“Why didn’t someone do something to prevent school shootings after Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook?” these teenagers asked. It’s a good question. But instead of wallowing and ruminating on that question, or wasting time lamenting on the failure of other people to act, they decided to do whatever they could themselves.
How have the older and more experienced adults in America responded? Some have responded with admiration and applause. And others are asking, “Who are these kids to talk? They are children! They don’t understand the nuances of the situation. They are young and naïve. What qualifies them to be leaders in gun legislation or school safety?”
Well, in the famous words of Marianne Williamson, who are they not to be? Who are these teenagers not to be advocates for their own safety? Who could be better qualified to work on a solution than someone who has seen the problem up close and personal?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~ Marianne Williamson
We are in a deeply divided world right now, with serious issues to solve. This is not a time to hide behind our insecurities and fears. This is not a time to point fingers at other people and blame outside forces on things that personally affect us. This is a time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Maybe we don’t know the entire history of school violence in America. Maybe we aren’t as well educated as we would like to be on mental illness or the 2nd Amendment. Should we use our lack of knowledge as excuses not to act, or should we take a cue from the brave teenagers in Florida and get to work solving the problem?
Who are we to address the problems of this nation? Well, who are we not to?
It’s time to stop dismissing courage and instead begin raising ourselves up a level of integrity that better suits us all. We are beautiful, brave, incredible humans who are capable of beautiful, brave and incredible things. Let’s stop criticizing others and start acting with honor, instead.