Yesterday I wrote a post called “Two Kinds” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It was, I hope obviously, a bit tongue in cheek. There are never only two in anything! The world is just not black and white — there are hundreds of shades of grey! (not just 50) And, I wouldn’t pass judgment on someone for taking too many mashed potatoes — well, I wouldn’t as long as they left enough for me. (I love them enough that it’s every man for himself.).
I started thinking about the flip side of both the ME-FIRSTs and the BUT-WHAT-ABOUTs. I said in the last post that I’m a BUT-WHAT-ABOUT. I acknowledged that there are definitely times where I am not. But I said something at that point that is really telling. When I turn into the ME-FIRST, I always feel bad. I feel guilt. Perhaps there is more to this than thinking of others. Maybe those who wonder about everyone else’s happiness and satisfaction are not doing it purely out of empathy for the other. Maybe it is also a reflection of not seeing themselves as worth more and better. Maybe it is because they have somehow been taught that others needs are first because those folks are more deserving. Maybe they are so determined to be liked that they sacrifice everything at that altar.
And those ME-FIRSTs? Well, they may well have gotten all the spotlight and praise from their folks who told them over and over how wonderful they are. But maybe their attitude and aggression isn’t because they believed it. There is a definite possibility that they are doing everything they can to be number one because they grew up believing that they had to live up to the expectation. Maybe their aggression is because they don’t believe that they really can do this but that they have to be that way in order to please someone else.
Of course there are people who are just rude and arrogant and believe they are better than everyone. They are the true ME-FIRST people. There are BUT-WHAT-ABOUTs who are truly behaving that way because they are empathic and they care about others that much. They are confident that their needs will always be met and that they will not be diminished by others getting ahead.
And then I started thinking about one of my favorite people in all the world. (She offered me the potatoes she couldn’t finish.) But you know what? She isn’t a full-on true ME-FIRST. As soon as she leaves the dinner table, she isn’t that person. She might get so wrapped up in a project that she loses track of everything and everyone else. She might forget that important birthday, but she is very caring of others. Her concern about social injustice is vast. She is very sensitive and talented beyond words. Her attitude at the table might be ME-FIRST, but what I see in her is more an attitude that I didn’t even think of. She’s a WHY-N0T-ME! She puts herself out there so fully by entering competitions, auditioning for shows, leading worship, and befriending those who are often on the fringes. From the time she entered school, she noticed the kids who were handicapped or on the edges of the activity. She isn’t pushy, but she is confident and ready to take on the world. She doesn’t think it’s always a me-vs-them scenario throughout life. She gets excited for the accomplishments of others. Does she want it all? Yep. Does she expect it to all be placed at her feet. No way. She works and gives every project that she takes on all that she has. When I grow up, I want to be like her!
Today she turned fifteen. She’s famous in our little world. Someday you will all know her! It’s the WHY-NOT-ME folks who work and dare and create and live. May you truly live all the days of your life!