Saturday, March 10, 2007

Everyone is "Special"

Direct quote: If you set the bar low enough, your pet canary can meet these goals.

What I was talking about was the goals for my son's learning in the special education program. Too often, the goals are set so low, that it is no real accomplishment for the kid to reach them. The goals are met. 100% achievement! A+ student.

This is where the self-esteem movement gets us: Under-achievement and over-self value. It is a disastrous place individually and societally.

ShrinkWrapped has one of the best blog posts I've ever read applying this notion to the Islamic world. He writes of a young boy, a patient with budding narcissism. This child was unable to ask for help, because he believed himself to be so smart which resulted in learning problems, because, guess what? He didn't know everything and needed help at times. Here is how this case study applies to the Honor-Shame societies that are dominated by Islam:

The aggregate of Narcissism known as Honor-Shame leads to a people who cannot learn from others or from experience, cannot ask for assistance, and react with rage to anything that even hints at criticism, all the while being extraordinarily insensitive, even vicious, to those who threaten their comfortable grandiose delusions.
That's narcissism in a nutshell. It is extremely destructive. The world's existence is only to serve the narcissist's needs and expectations. When there is even an implication of inadequacy--watch out!

Bringing this back down to the individual: We must all learn that we have strengths and weaknesses. I warned last week, that in order to be successful, we must be self-aware, humble, even in order to not be undone by our weaknesses. Too often, people find it too painful to confront those areas and get help. Those who see themselves, really have clear vision, will seek help for their deficiencies. Weaknesses can be turned into strengths.

I have hope that as Iraq comes together, gets a taste of freedom, sees the benefits of treating people with dignity, and feel the positive economic results, that their country will be an example to the rest of the Islamic world. The surrounding societies watch, of course, and wait. Their leaders fear just such a society--it would mean power loss for themselves. Iraq is a worthy endeavor nonetheless. If they slowly, but surely, see reality and more importantly, see the benefits of being real, it will encourage continued growth.

Rather than the ephemeral self-esteem, real, hard-won self-worth will result.

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