I feel empowered to truly hate the term "empowered."
Now, it seems like a great concept. We should empower women. Minorities. The poor. We hear the term over and over again. It is a core concept of virtually every self-help book out there these days.
And they usually start in a solid place; you must first believe in yourself. This is very true. And while it doesn't really hold with most of the groups I've heard, I would say it does apply to most women I know. Most of my female friends don't really believe in themselves, except for short periods of time right after they've read the latest self-help book.
I think this is because these same philosophies that claim to be "empowering" do nothing of the kind. Yes, you do start by believing in yourself, in your ability to become the person you want to be, in your ability to take control of yourself, your circumstances, your life. But that is only the first step, and if not followed by concrete results, it is a meaningless step.
What people have been sold on as "empowerment" is actually a sense of self-entitlement. I am worthy of good things, therefore they should come to me. I am worthy of trust, so it should be given to me. I am worthy of happiness, so it should be mine. I am worthy of respect, so it should be given to me. I am worthy of the same wealth and power as anybody else, so it should be given to me.
True empowerment comes first from the realization that there are opportunities out there, and secondly from the self-worth that comes from realizing the potential of those opportunities. Yes, you are worthy of good things, so go out there and earn them! You are worthy of trust, so go earn that trust - it takes effort, it takes time, and it takes diligence.
Nobody deserves to have anything GIVEN to them. What you deserve is the opportunity to go EARN it.
Are people given things undeservedly? Of course. That doesn't mean you deserve the same gifts.
This is one of the inherent problems with socialism and communism. It ends up leading to a sense of deserving something for nothing, or for a disproportionate reward system. It kills me when I hear politicians saying that anybody who works 40 hours a week deserves a substantial wage. Really? What if I work 40 hours a week holding a door open? Or putting popcorn in bags? Do I deserve a substantial wage, just like somebody who has spent years learning a craft or trade? Do I deserve a substantial wage, just like somebody who puts sweat and effort and back-breaking labor into what they do? According to the politicians, I do. And that's supposedly "empowering."
What happens is that life smacks you down for believing that shit. So then you feel less confident in yourself than you did before. You start feeling cheated. You start blaming others for your failures. It's the people stabbing you in the back, or the system keeping you down.
Self-entitlement and self-empowerment are mutually exclusive. If you want to be empowered, make a change. Take charge. When you succeed, feel the glow of having done it, instead of just wishing or dreaming. When you fail, take responsibility. Then fix it, and feel the empowerment that comes from getting it right. From succeeding. From doing, not just wishing.
I hear all the time about positive thinking creating an aura of positive energy that does something or other... If you read this regularly, you know I don't really believe in an energy that can't be measured, quantified, or detected. Positive thinking achieves results only when it leads to positive actions! With that said, I'm a huge believer in positive thinking, because that's where actions start. But all the thoughts in the world mean nothing without action.
As my parents' generation used to say "wish in one hand, crap in the other - see which one fills up first."
As I said before, most of the women I know really need to be empowered. They really need to learn how to believe in themselves. But it has to come from doing, it cannot come from a sense of self-entitlement, or it will lead to bitterness and self-defeat. They are being fed a load of bullshit by society, and it makes me sad.
Global Justice needs heroes!
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