Sometimes the most profound moments come from the simplest conversations. I go back to one Friday night, a few years back, when I stopped in to see a friend tending bar at a casual hangout.
We sat and talked for a few hours… always good… at the end of this day, the end of the week. There was a TV nearby. On it appeared yet another celebrity getting attention for a personal choice — and as oft consistent with our not-so-united society, the attention was prominent, but not necessarily prominently positive. All sorts of people possessing all sorts of perspectives felt welcome chiming in on his choice.
So as one who truly wishes to welcome and consider all perspective — and no doubt, I, too, am a work in progress — I asked my dear, articulate, especially frank friend, Bobby, his thoughts.
Simpler than I imagined, Bobby looked at me, paused from his professional routine, and merely said, not really to me, “You know, I think you need to be the best you — and I need to be the best me.”
He was not speaking to “me,” of course. He was identifying how each of us looks at other people — and why we each feel welcome to generously weigh in with our perspectives, varied as they may be… condoning or condemning, also as they may be.
We look at other people…
And when they are different from us, we justify the condemnation…
Maybe we criticize and condemn because they look differently.
Maybe we criticize and condemn because they act differently.
Or maybe we’re ok with how one looks or acts, but we criticize and condemn because they think differently.
One of my recent (but still all time) favorite movies is “The Greatest Showman,” released last winter starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Ephron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya (… it’s ok if you didn’t like it; for this former show choir parent, “this is me”…).
Within exists an iconic song, nominated for an Academy Award…
“This Is Me.” It’s great for multiple reasons…
For some, as dubbed by Variety Magazine, it is “an anthem for outcasts.” Led by the Bearded Lady — after being shunned by the show’s visionary (Jackman) — the cast of human “oddities” finds their voice and their pride, marching through the streets, refusing to feel as something lesser.
Described by song co-writer Justin Paul, “She (the Bearded Lady) then finds her own sense of power and pride. It’s the moment where they realize, ‘We are who we are, and we’re going to own our own identity.’”
Note she is owning who she is… comparing herself to no one else… being the “best me,” subject to the judgment of no other.
Says the song:
“… When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.”
Yes, there are areas in which each of us is foolish — each of us needs to grow — all of us. God is no doubt, not finished with us yet.
But sometimes the growth would be faster if we could grow in absence of judgment from anyone else.