Over the last several years, there’s been incessant talk of empowerment.
We’re told this group or that is in need of it. These people or those should feel stronger. The young or the old, the known, the forgotten…they’re all deserving of greater encouraged strength.
Everyone, the message goes, needs more emotional emboldenment.
But I don’t believe this to be true.
In my opinion, the world is swallowing itself whole: We’re being devoured by our own narcissism.
The signs are all around.
We live in the age of the selfie stick. Across a global electronic miracle, we post photos of ourselves on pages created by ourselves to showcase…ourselves.
A quick social media perusal reveals a growing wealth of astonishingly polished profiles. We’ve become our own publicists. Celebrity is dead, because we’re each the star of our own show. And many appear in competition to market the best-lived life.
Yet, it seems to me, the lives of so many are empty.
Faith in a higher power is on the steep decline.
And with that goes one’s Greater Purpose.
Where, then, travels our faith? In lieu of a Creator, is it transferred to our own selves?
That can’t be good for the soul.
Such a loss of navigation — of where we stand in the eyes of God — has shipwrecked those who’ve grown up in an anchorless world.
It’s surely contributed to our new brand of adolescence: misery.
Have you noticed the Great Change?
Not long ago, young people played. Pursued. Dreamed.
Held hands. Kissed. Loved.
So many of today’s youth are in the streets trying to ignite a revolution. Or quell one, real or imagined.
They’re bearing burdens they can’t yet possibly understand, much less aptly address.
Many are weighted by emptiness as they search for a reason to exist.
And the void comes partly from their elders — for whom, incidentally, they have no respect.
In a recent interview with The Daily Caller, Adam Carolla laid out his theory on our new “empowered” generation:
“(If) we people try to graft self-esteem onto you, you will be miserable eventually. And the reason you’ll have to be miserable is ’cause everyone’ll keep telling you, ‘Oh, you’re the best, you’re the coolest, you’re the greatest,’ and everything like that. But you start looking around, five years [have] gone by, and clearly there’s nothing going on — like you’re not the best, you’re not rich, you don’t have a great job, you don’t have a cool car. So now you feel like the best person in the world driving a beat-up car and working at a Burger King, and…that then turns to anger. … If you’d earned that self-esteem — if you felt as good about yourself as you should feel about yourself based on your accomplishments — then you would have a completely different world view.”
Adam hit the nail on the head:
“[W]e used to talk a lot about character. And we don’t talk about character anymore. We talk about self-esteem. Self-esteem earned is fine. Self-esteem given is a huge problem. And character is always a good thing. So we removed character, we put this synthesized self-esteem in its place, and we have a bunch of…miserable people.”
And what’s an inherent part of character? What’s the superior alternative to arrogance?
Humility. The golden rule.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
It may not foster empowerment, but it grows within us something superior: fulfillment.
In Christianity, there was once a saying: “Joy” is “Jesus, Others, Yourself” — consideration of the three, in that order.
Years ago, I knew someone in entertainment — an actor; a model. He had reasons to put himself first. Yet he bore a tattooed reminder: “I Am Last.”
I don’t expect that tattoo’s now a popular choice.
There’s overwhelming evidence online.
Over the last several weeks — and the last few years — the web’s been awash with people shouting in others’ faces. You’ve surely seen them on video, and even in text.
Picture it — imagine that person, inches from another’s face. Screaming. Even spitting.
Is that the look of a world in need of empowerment?
Has empowerment served us well?
Put aside politics. Set aside social ideology. Let’s get back to something more practical than perspective: behavior.
And to things more important than oneself: kindness; consideration; thoughtfulness.
Remember that? “Please.” “Thank you.”
And those most important words in a society at peace: “I’m sorry.” Where humility lives, so does repentance. And, subsequently, betterment.
That’s a world that can grow closer. More tranquil. More tolerant. Of real diversity: that of thought.
Would the shrieking, hissing revolutionary say “Excuse me” for bumping into a stranger?
We’ve gone from erring on the side of “I apologize” to Americans chanting “Punch a Nazi” — a “Nazi,” in more than some cases, being anyone with whom they disagree.
Yet, we continue to hear it: People need empowerment. Empower yourself.
I have something different to say.
No. Don’t. Young people. Old people. This person. That.
We’re not in short supply. We could use more love, which means to serve: “I am last.”
Love is a Greater Purpose, too.
And humility is the path.
If we all were to take it, how different a world it would be.
We suffer not from a lack of empowerment, but enlightenment.
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