Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Lies of Our Times

I think one of the biggest lies that our culture has perpetrated on it's youth is the idea that:
 "You can do anything if you just want it bad enough!"
How many times, in our youth and school years, did we hear "It's only a matter of making up your mind. If you want to, you can be an astronaut, an engineer, or even the president!" OK well, considering the caliber of recent administrations, anyone probably can be president.
The question is, why are we telling children that they can do anything, and at the same time diagnosing them with every kind of learning problem, mental health issue and personality disorder we can think of? You got your label? Great! Now, tell us what you want to do with your life and we will find some way to accommodate your limitations and get you the help you need so that we can shove your square little hiney into that round hole. Why not just go find a square hole?

There are people that can run a marathon in record time. There are people that can run a marathon in a day. There are people that can run. I am not one of them. I can tell myself that I can all day long, but I can't. I have bad hips and knees.
I can't do higher math. That's OK. I get to a certain point and it starts to sound like Swahili. I think I could learn Swahili, but there is something in my brain that inhibits my ability to learn math. I don't think God is disappointed, after all, He made me this way. He obviously had a plan and higher Math wasn't a part of it.

Tim would have loved to have been a pilot. He has the aptitude and tons of desire, but he also has terrible eyesight and vertigo. Fact.
The things that we can't do don't define us, they direct us toward the things that we actually have been given, our gifts.
Telling students that they can "do anything" really doesn't mean "do anything". It leaves them feeling like they are expected to shoot for Wall street or the White House and then if that doesn't work out they can teach or become a landscaper. What if they already know that they would LOVE teaching or landscaping? Are their gifts less worthy because they didn't attempt the highest peak and shoot for the top first? What's wrong with just shooting for the best version of yourself from the beginning?

What happens in a classroom when a person with intellectual or physical limitations hears the teacher telling the class, "If you want it, you can do it!", whatever "it" is? What if you just can't? It's OK not to be that high academic achiever or athlete. What's not OK is to drive yourself for the dreams of someone else or because "it" has to be attempted before you can settle down and find where you fit. If you want it, try it. If you can't get there, try something else. Life is too short to buy into other people's ideas of what your life should look like. Follow your dreams, within the bounds of your capabilities, but don't beat yourself up because you have to modify the dream. Try, yes. Try as hard as you can, and when you feel that you have tried yourself out, try something else. And don't bring up Rudy Ruteger because he tried as hard as he could, and he did play one awesome football game, but then went out and did what he's really good at, motivating people.

We do live in a land of opportunity, but one of the most beautiful things about our country is what the old-timers called "Yankee Ingenuity". Genius is not defined by IQ, but by the ability to find, develop and use the gifts that we have been given to their true purpose. You might be a math genius and win a Nobel prize for Science. Awesome. You might be a literary genius, and write a Nobel prize-winning novel. Fantastic. What if you are a people genius? You might not win a Nobel prize, but your contribution is no less brilliant. You have to ability to motivate and move others in ways that a math genius could never figure out. We need you!

Don't get caught up in the lie that you can do anything if you just want it bad enough, because while you are trying to figure out how to achieve the impossible dream, you might miss the thing that makes you truly happy. It's not enough to want it, it has to be meant for you, and the One who made you is the One who has the perfect plan for you. Ask Him, He'll tell you!

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