Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Being Who We Are

Sounds simple doesn’t it. But it occurred to me during a recent conversation that while most of us are comfortable being who we are, we are not always as tolerant of who “others” are being, at the moment. Now, that’s not to say that if someone is bothering you, that you shouldn’t be bothered or that correcting children goes out the window. That would be silly.
We are constantly helping children become who they will be. We guide. And that’s fine, but we don’t create who they will be anymore than we can badger people into being who we want them to be. As importantly, I can’t help but notice that when we try the latter, most of the time the measuring stick we use is ourselves. You know what I mean: The little voice in ones head that says: “I lost weight –you should lose weight”; “I work 50 hours-you should work 50 hours”; “You know what she should have done is…”! Sometimes the measure is external. Consider the phrase voted least-wanted-to-be- heard-by-a-sibling, “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister!”
I have been thinking about this a great deal lately as we have been discussing Aaron and Moses at length in the religious school as we study Exodus. One day someone asked, “Why, if Aaron came to speak for Moses, didn’t G-d just send Aaron?” Good question. After some discussion the best answer we came up with was that G-d wanted to send the great leader Moses. Why? Because Aaron is not Moses.
This also leads me to reflect that just because someone needs support and assistance, we may just want to assist as appropriate, rather then simply replacing them. Clearly, each of us brings our own set of talents and experiences to a situation; their place is likely just as important as yours. It depends on what we place importance on. I remember as young man proudly bring up the point that, “Men have the really important jobs, you know, like flying high speed jets,” during a lesson on avoiding sexism in writing. I explained to him that I could not remember how a person’s expertise in flying a high-speed jet had affected my life directly, but offered him the opportunity to tell me how it had affected his. Then I waited. It was kind of a long wait…. I asked him to tell me who had affected his life directly and the list was long, but predictable. Topped, of course, by his mother. I tried to explain that it had to do with what one values- or in this case what he thought he valued, as clearly there was a discrepancy. (I sent him away with a lot to think about and, as a side note, his mom seemed to really like me when we met on parent’s night.)
Our evaluations depend on what we value. (Shaded at times by what we come to take for granted.) A slight shift can change our perspective. The grass is always greener, somewhere else (or sometimes with someone else.) At least until we are standing on it, then it looks pretty much like grass.
In the Torah sometimes Moses’ name appears first and sometimes Aaron’s does. The Rabbis tells us that this is because they are both important. One is not more important than the other. Their cooperation is, in part, the vehicle of their success.
As someone joked in a very funny voice while we were studying, “I’ve met Moses and you’re no Moses!” We all had a long laugh. The type that make you feel a little winded at the end and refreshed. Good thing G-d doesn’t require me to be Moses, or anybody else for that matter, just a good version of myself.
No, I’m no Moses and neither are you.

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