I don’t have anything burning my heart to write about today, so instead I’m going to put a voice to a musing which pops into my mind sometimes. I don’t even have a plan for what to write. But here goes – let’s see what happens.
I’ve been challenged lots of times to make conscious efforts to be of good character. It’s something I want to be, something I am mindful of, something that upsets me when people don’t have the same values. So when I was actively involved in Christians in Sport and they’d encourage us to be someone of whom it would be said “She’s class. What an amazing attitude“: I used to think “Yep – that’s who I want to be, even when it’s hard”.
But here’s what my mind chews over. It is so much harder to be class when you’re grappling your way up, than when you’re on more secure ground at the top.
Let me explain what I mean by class. To me it means being humble, not shoving yourself to the front. Not jumping into the most popular circle and being mean to others. Being gracious and helping others out, giving a people a hand up when they need one. Being benevolent and fair-minded and non-judgemental. Noticing others.
This is so much easier to do when you’re the captain of the team than when you’re fighting tooth and nail to even make it off the bench. If you are secure in your position in life, you can easily step aside and be humble and make a little way for others. If you’re the leading lady in a show you can reflect the spotlight onto others; if you are back row of the chorus and don’t want to be there, well get your armour on folks, because these here elbows are being sharpened in the tussle for the front.
How do you be humble when no-one notices you anyway?
How do you give people a hand up and be fair minded, when you’re dangling off the bottom rung of the social status ladder?
How strong is the temptation to stand on others a few rungs lower than us when we are so far from the top? (And here, I think it is actually much easier again to be benevolent to those tens of rungs below, they aren’t any threat). What when you’ve been passed over for promotion for someone you think you are better than, not to gossip and try to tell people that you think they are a few rungs down really? What when you are not picked after doing a killer audition for a show, not to bad-mouth those who’ve just (undeservedly in your opinion) got your dream part and jumped a few rungs over you? What when you are benched for a player who’s the coach’s favourite but fellow team-members don’t rate? How do you prove yourself over again without exhausting yourself more? What does it count if you take a stand against gossip and it makes you unpopular, when no-one notices anything except that you’re not in the in-crowd.
How do you find the balance between fighting your own corner and believing in yourself (which is important), and being gracious to others, when something really really matters to you. Of course it’s much easier when it doesn’t matter so much.
I know. Inner strength and security in who you are never mind what happens is key. I know this. You know yourself when you have tried to do the right thing, and this is of itself often enough. But we are social animals. We spend our lives comparing ourselves in every possible way to every possible other person. Trying to find our own ground.
I’m not really writing to find answers to these questions. I have pondered them for a long time. They shape me. My meandering through life, trying to be of the best character I aim to be, and of course striving and failing and picking up over and over has taught me that the only way is to keep meandering. And keep being mindful of the see-saw and trying to stay in balance.
I also think when people asked Jesus these questions, he pretty much said “You lot keep climbing up these ladders you’ve made hoping people will cheer and applaud. Don’t you realise the ladders are complete bullshit? You’ve got the wrong ladders, people.” (Gospel according to Sunny, Chapter 3 verse 16)
We’ve got the wrong ladders. What a bummer that it’s so knackering trying to climb them.