When you encounter a setback or a stumbling block in life, know that life is not trying to ruin you. The purpose of failure is to humble you. What happens when you become humble? You see beyond yourself. You see how your life fits in the world and how it is intertwined with the fate of those around you and those you will never meet. Being humble means crying about someone dying in a bar and having an acquaintance tell you that it’s not as bad as you think because they have no idea why you are crying, but you simply accept it because you know they are trying their best without trying to inflict pain. Being humble means showing compassion to those who never showed you any. Being humble means being thankful for all the good and bad things that have ever happened to you.
A funny thing happens when you become humble. You shed your skin of vulnerability, for you no longer fear defeat. Defeat becomes your friend and you find you are capable of the impossible suddenly. There are those who will continue to lament the very real tragedies in their lives, but when they refuse to see the good in the tragedy, they still open themselves up to the rift of pain that exists and they can never escape that cycle of self-inflicted pain. How do you see the good? Realize that the world does not revolve around you, but that instead, you exist to make the world a better place. If you let yourself be defeated by defeat, you wallow in a kind of selfish pity that threatens you with only more defeat. But if you’ve become immune to defeat, you can become selfless.
You should never court failure, but if it does happen, welcome it as the humbling agent it is. For only those who have tasted defeat knows how sweet success does taste.
I recently read a newspaper article detailing how today’s society is reporting many more people feeling lonely than ever before. I find it hard to believe that people feel so lonely in a time where we are more connected than ever. You can find your niche and people with the touch of the keyboard. Mobile phones, social media, and the internet allow us to be in touch with others like no other time in history, so why is that we are reporting more loneliness? Many say it’s because we’re having more superficial interactions with others, but no one quite knows how to deal with it. Here’s a thought: stop being superficial. That’s probably harder than you think, though.
The reality is that we live in a society that prizes success and as such, many shy away from speaking about what has gone wrong in their lives. We build our social medias to portray the best that we have to offer, rarely speaking of what is really lurking behind the mask. It is expected that we put our best foot forward. When someone asks how your day is going, the correct response is ‘good,’ no matter if it is or not. We expect only to hear about the good things from others and they start to show only the success they’ve had in their life, which causes a rift between reality and polite niceties that are required. What is happening is that we are not having authentic connections with each other because we expect each other to always be positive. When we filter our conversations, our pictures, and our posts, we filter our authenticity.
Loneliness can occur from many things such as moving somewhere new or having someone leave our lives that we were once close to, but there is a different kind of loneliness that is creeping into our lives in the present day. It leaves us unsatisfied with ourselves and with who we are, so we seek it out in the outside world, never realizing we can’t fill the hole that is within us. We’ve learned to politely lie so well to the world that we have begun lying to ourselves. We crave success and acceptance so much that we forgo our failures. Failure is what can bring you to authenticity. When you speak about your failure, you become vulnerable and allow others to become vulnerable as well. They then allow themselves to speak about their failures and connect with you. You can always strive to reach success, but you must connect with failure, for that’s when we are truly authentic: when we have nothing left to lose.
I’ve been following the Twitter handle Trump Regrets and find it hilarious. In the news, there have also been stories of people who voted for Trump who find they now have family members who are going to be deported or not let into the country. For most who do not care for Trump, there are two views: one of derision and the other of compassion. I say, why not both? Personally, I am laughing at their gaffes and am glad they got out justice meted out to them due to their beliefs in one man. For me, I don’t think anyone should be held accountable for what they feel, only what they say. So I feel perfectly fine feeling this way towards them, but publicly, I will say that I do see the tragedy of it all and the harrowing situation they are in through no direct fault of their own. I mean, there are still people who opposed ‘Obamacare,’ but don’t want their Affordable Care Act repealed, so misinformation abounds everywhere. People don’t always see clearly, but that doesn’t mean they deserve bad things to happen to them, because when the poorest of the poor lose, we all lose.
Trump has failed miserably in his first days in office. He has thumbed his nose at the establishment and then expected them to back him when he called out many of them in nasty nasty ways. And yet he fails to see that. He claims to be a great businessman who was going to right America, and although I don’t agree with him being a great businessman as he inherited his fortune, filed for bankruptcy multiple times, and has had some shady deals, for the sake of argument, I’ll say he’s a good businessman. Just because he’s a good businessman doesn’t mean he was going to make a good politician. Politicians know how to compromise and this man knows nothing of compromise. If he hasn’t learned how to now, he never will. As a politician, you know you can never appease everyone, but you are willing to work with others and hear them out, but if you continue to bully them, they will stop listening.
And then there were the people who said ‘give him a chance. Hoping that he’ll fail is like wishing all the country will fail.’ Personally, I’m like is this the chance you were looking for? But I know that is not helpful and I’d like to say to those people that I did give him a chance and he has proven he does not know how to be a politician and he has decided to surround himself with people who are also not politicians, so unless this changes, his chances are quickly going down the drain. In the end, we all want the same things, but getting there doesn’t always mean agreeing. We may agree to disagree, but that is how a democracy works. If one more person says ‘don’t like Trump? Move!’ one more time, I’ll have to counter with ‘you must’ve loved Obama because you stayed in the country all eight long years.’ We’re all in this together, so at least argue together.
The often misquoted phrase ‘money is the root of all evil’ is derived from 1 Timothy 6:10, which actually says ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.’ In the original context, it is the greed for money that is the root of some evil. For me, I believe greed in general is the root of the worst evils. There are some evils that occur out of pure ignorance, blind allegiance, or even in the name of the best of intentions, but this is another category altogether. Then there is another evil that is manufactured by mere mortals that keeps their neighbors in misery. This evil has many faces and many names, but it allows for the destruction of those around them simply for a few to live in excess. This evil is pure greed.
For me, the twin pursuits of money and power cause the most damage, for people will subvert themselves just to attain that status. I watched a documentary where a young girl escaped from a Mormon cult and said that her father was one of the senior members, but when they were younger, he was just a normal guy who never believed in polygamy or religion that much, but when he was given power, he abandoned his family for it. However, the pursuit of money and power is not evil in of itself. It is greed for these things that propels these people to accept evil. Greed allows us to bend the rules for ourselves and those around us. We can accept the horrible treatment of our neighbors when we are given access to money and power, and to keep it, we allow greed to take over all aspects of our lives.
The thing about greed is that we all harbor its sentiments deep in our hearts. They lie dormant when we are but peasants who revolt against the bourgeoisie, but when we are the bourgeoisie, we adapt their rules because we are no longer peasants. This is how the caste system has always worked and will always work. Greed may be the root of all evil, but evil is what we all are if we were ever presented the opportunity. We want to believe we are good people and will always do the right thing, but centuries of history will prove you wrong. The only way we can achieve more is to accept that we are indeed evil and build measures against it. When the founding fathers crafted the constitution and government, they relied on the fact that they were all equal men fighting for their country, which they were, and as such, made laws and rules that did not guard against those who would use the system for their own gain, but now, that is where we are.
If you craft anything, craft it with the belief of evil and you will safeguard the future, but craft it with the belief that we are all good, you will find more evil.
Late one lazy night, I was watching a video of Michelle Obama give a speech at a predominately black college. She told them that when she applied for the college she wanted, there were people who told her that perhaps she shouldn’t go because she may embarrass herself. She told the college kids that they shouldn’t listen to the detractors because they didn’t know the potential each of them held. Here’s what she didn’t know and what the majority of people get wrong: those people aren’t saying it to be spiteful. In fact, they have good intentions and want the person they are giving advice to not to fail, so they give this nugget of knowledge in hopes that the person doesn’t falter. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it hurtful? Yes. Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? You better believe it, however, the take-away I want people to have is that these people are not rooting for you to fail. They are simply judging you based off of what they’ve seen, not necessarily what they know about you.
When we walk away from a situation like this, we oftentimes feel angry at the other party and at the world for not believing in us, but if we view it through the scope of their own misgivings and fears, we can see there isn’t too much anger to hold on to. In this life, people will always misjudge you, miscalculate how smart you are, and miss your level of perseverance. It’s not up to them to see your full potential and it is not up to you to prove to them what your potential is. The only person you ever have to prove your worth to is yourself, because you are the only person who matters. I wish it were all praise and accolades out there, but sometimes you have to encounter defeat to really understand who you are. Are you the type of person to lay down and die when the praise dries up or are you the type of person who thrives on poorly-intentioned advice? When you understand how crippling failure can be, you understand why people do the things they do. It makes you more compassionate for the very people who you think are keeping you down. At the same time, you must realize that you have your own voice.
There are million paths to take and a million ways to fail. There will be those along the way who will help you and those who will tear you down. There is no right way down the path, only the path. There is no right and wrong, only your and their judgment of right and wrong. When you start to see between the lines, you start to realize who you truly are and how you fit on your path.