Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So You Want to Be Important.

I needed help. I was up to my eyeballs in student projects and student conferences and if any more hands went up in the air I was going to start using them as a ring toss game.  “Help each other, help each other” fell on deaf ears. I called halt and explained that there were all kinds of experts in the room, not just me. I did not have a monopoly on anything.  Hard to believe, I know, but true none the less. I helped my students make a list of other students they could go to for help in a specific area.  Suddenly every eight year old in the room wanted to be on the expert list and they were not shy about it. They were very direct, “You didn’t put me on the expert list!”   One problem solved and another one created.  Luckily for me it was a problem that was easily and quickly solved otherwise I was going to have to suggest that they install a valium dispenser in the teacher’s lounge, an idea whose time as come by the way.
We spent all of ten minutes putting everyone on the expert list. One of my young scholars is an expert at standing in line which doesn’t seem like much but I’ll tell you there are days when I am pretty darned grateful for that bit of expertise. We all like to feel that we are contributing, that we are important, but unlike adults, most kids don’t expect it to be at someone else’s expense.
 I know you know what I’m talking about. There’s always someone who thinks that they can’t possibly be important if someone else is so they make sure they undermine other people. They’re the ones who go around planting little seeds of negativity about other people just to see what will take root. We all know someone who demands that people kowtow to them because they think they are more important then anyone else in the room.  And who hasn’t had an experience with a coworker who is quick to go to the boss about some misdeed so they can feel important. 
That does not make a lick of sense to me. If we are one with God then that means we are all one with each other, right?  If you suffer than on some level I must suffer too and if you shine than doesn’t my light get a little brighter?  If we are all created from God then it must follow that we are all important because we all shine in the eyes of God. Does God love me any less than He loves you? So, can’t we stop being important at someone else’s expense?  Can’t we celebrate each other without being afraid of losing some indispensable part of who we think we are?  
People want to feel important. I get that.  Shoot I want to feel important and I’ll settle for cheap attention and an easy laugh just because it’s fun.  What I don’t want is to diminish someone else so that I can feel puffed up for all of half a second.  I like having attention and feeling important because I am a human being and in case you didn’t get the memo I’m not exactly a shrinking violet.  I have danced on tables and I’ve never met a lamp shade I didn’t look good in.  The thing is I happen to know for a fact that being important is a state of mind that lasts for just this long and really, ya’ll, it’s not the be all and end all of life.  In the grand scheme of things it is just not that significant because it is not who we are, not even close. Being important is, at best, a fleeting sensation that serves no one, not even your own self. It is however, part of the wilderness experience of being human.
 So, go for it, be important, knock yourself out, but does it have to be at someone else's expense?  Can’t we all be important?   Can’t we all be special? 'Cause we are you know. Life is not a game. There are no winners and losers here. There’s room for all of us to shine and we do. We shine in the eyes of God and that is where it matters the most.

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