I was riding through Israel on a bus two years ago having to watch every word I said. I was on a tour with some people who wouldn't allow anyone else an alternate opinion.
If you had a contrary point of view to their thinking, there was no conversation to be had. You were just wrong. I thought, “Well, how convenient it must be to always be right.”
I came home with a mixture of disappointment and pity. Disappointment (in myself) because I caved to keep the peace. Pity because I had never encountered such insecure people.
As I write those words, I’m still heartbroken by people whose lack of self-confidence can be recognized by their lack of value for anyone else’s voice but their own.
Just Nod Yes. Or Shut Up.
We’re living in the most critical time in history. Sound like hyperbole? Think about it. You can’t say anything without being criticized. Condemned. Or canceled.
The only people who speak up are those with polarizing points of view. Everyone else is just trying to figure out how to have a voice without becoming a victim.
And people have no problem helping put you in your place. Just nod yes. Or shut up. What happened to healthy debate? How come we can no longer graciously agree to disagree?
I have a lot of opinions. You probably do too. And I bet you’d like to share them without the fear of being lambasted. I might have an advantage—I really don’t care anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very caring. I care about many issues. I just don’t care what opinionated people think. Because my identity is not determined by their approval.
Or not as much as it used to be anyway. There was a time I’d be quick to care about what others thought of me. But living through a health crisis has changed that for me.
I’ve been learning something recently. My need to disagree or debate with others wasn’t about their point of view. My criticism was an indication of my insecurities.
BTW: That’s also true of everyone. As I mentioned, you can identify people who struggle with their sense of identity by the volume of their voice and the quickness of their criticism.
And no. That’s not a criticism of others. It’s an indicator to provide some perspective. Maybe next time you’re on a bus with bullies, you’ll have a better understanding.
So if we’re living in the most critical time in history, maybe we’re also living in a time when people are the most insecure. And I think that makes the most sense. It’s a cycle.
If I can’t have an opinion without you pissing on my Cheerios and canceling me for my point of view, then neither can you. And while both sides fight like children, everyone suffers.
This isn’t a political post. But it could be. This isn’t a religious post. But it could be. Fill in the blank because we’ve become so divided on about every damn issue imaginable.
Why? Because for so long we’ve gotten our identity from the approval of others. If no one values my views or allows me to speak without condemnation, then who the hell am I?
We’ll always have differences of opinion for which I am grateful. Diversity is good. My goal isn’t to point out our weakness but challenge our willingness to see the damage we’re doing.
We’re not making forward progress as a race because we’re too busy riding on the bus and hiding in the shadows while allowing a few people to pit us against each other.
Let me suggest the reason why is also the reason the pain of aloneness is exponentially growing and why authenticity has become laughable instead of a lifestyle.
We don’t know who we are.
We don’t know our identities. We’ve allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated and domesticated to a point where we can’t think for ourselves without fear of criticism anymore.
We’re in trouble, my friends. And the situation we face is only going to get worse until people decide to stop being pushed around and start being a square peg in a round hole.
So don’t do what hypocrites do—sit in church and apply the sermon to someone else. This post will be absolutely powerless unless you choose to take it personally.
So here’s my challenge for you to consider:
When you criticize others, you're only talking about yourself and projecting your own insecurities. And when you refuse others an alternate point of view, expect the same.
If you feel yourself getting defensive even now, remember, it’s only your ego at work. And when the ego takes over, rest assured that it’s not going to be a positive experience.
The ego looks out for numero uno It’s self-centered, not centered-in-self. Respect yourself by respecting others. Honor and love yourself. And you’ll never dishonor or hate another.
Stop criticizing. You’re only hurting yourself.
Your opinion does matter.▪️
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Timothy Eldred is a writer, speaker, person of faith, and friendly disruptor of the status quo on a mission to end aloneness and help people live with authenticity.