A week or so ago, David Brooks, NYT Op-ed writer, asked his readers to tell him whom they thought were the most self-confident today, men or women. Last Friday, Brooks tallied up the responses he received, hoping to see a pattern, or at least some kind of answer. This did not happen as most answers were “idiosyncratic”. He saw fit to publish what he considered the calmest response. Here it is:
“As a believer in Jesus Christ, I see myself as redeemed, forgiven and covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I believe that this is how God sees me, all the time and without exception. I believe that his smile and delight in me is unwavering. This view of myself is quite simple yet with profound implications. It allows me to accept criticism without self-condemnation and to accept affirmations without exalting myself. This is the ideal view of myself that I am always working at. It is a struggle, but a good one.”
Ironically, on the same day, a front page article in the NYT stated,”Suicide Rates in Middle Age Show Sharp Increase in U.S.” In the article itself, all manner of pundits tried to explain why this phenomenon was happening. They mentioned all kinds of social pressures from changes in marriage, social isolation, inability to reach an expected goal, etc. Could it be that the baby boomers and their offspring became so self-actualized that they scorned any kind of philosophical or religious tenets to bolster or guide them on their life journey? The pundits never mentioned that possibility.
John Donne reminds us that, “No man is an island.” He said that several generations ago. It behoves us to remember our dependency on others and on our set of ideals. Confidence is not a game. Insulated, it can kill. With an open heart and an open mind, it can sustain those willing to remember that they are not alone.