Jummah Reflection: Are You Only Happy When It Rains?

Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom, & TGIF!

This week I had a fascinating conversation with a friend (who happens to be a Rabbi). We talked about a lot of things, but one of the topics that came up was the subject of narcissism as it relates to our causes and activism(s).

rainWhen we feel like we’re responsible for everything, or that we have to fix the whole world and that no one but us (and maybe a few of our friends) can *really see* what’s wrong… that’s a form of narcissism. It places us in the center and makes everything relate back to us.

This kind of narcissism is a detriment to our causes and undermines what we want to accomplish.

In reality, the world is a complex system and there are layers of problems that make it impossible to apply any ‘cookie-cutter’ solution. The Big Problems ™ need untangling. Slow, painstaking work that is often terribly frustrating and requires empathy and humility.

There are a couple of hallmarks that I’ve seen in the kind of people who are truly successful at addressing real world problems:

1. They are not concerned with what people think. They prefer to let their actions speak for themselves, and are successful at recruiting people to their causes by virtue of their deliberate, dedicated service. They are there to serve, to help, to do what’s right…as a calling. Whether they receive awards or recognition or publicity is beside the point, and hardly ever a consideration in whether they continue on with their work; and,

2. They have a sense of joy about their work. Even when they are facing the worst (literally) problems on earth and witnessing the fallout, they remain joyful, hopeful and focused. They rarely, if ever, devolve into rage or sanctimony; but instead spend their time looking for more reasons to believe change is possible.

The Problems Of The World so many of us are worried about won’t be ‘solved’..not in the way we typically think about solving problems. Maybe, at some point, we’ll collectively evolve out of some of them; but we need to give up our savior complexes and remember the famous words from the Mishnah, “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”

And anyway, it’s not about you. Or me.