In my local paper there’s a column of reader comments. People leave input, “no more than 30 seconds” on a call-in line. Each day a few of these short statements comprise the section. While occasionally there’s a thank you for a random act of kindness or a plea to include grateful messages, most are in the against-it camp, even suggesting, at times, those who disagree should “move to another planet.”
Like a toxic vine, being against-it, whatever “it” is, seems to be burrowing deep into our cultural mindset, modeled with fervor of late in the political arena. What one party is for, the other is against. Even before an idea makes it to twitter or the blogosphere, opposing party pundits and representatives rail against whatever approach the other side might be considering.
But before finger-pointing and smugness gets the better of us, consider that the against-it road is alive in most workplaces, communities, organizations, schools, and homes. The labels are different: it’s the boss or the staff, the parents or the teachers, the rich or the not-rich, the corporations or the “real” people, the women or the men, the baby-boomers or the millennials.
Being against something is so much easier; even easier still when all you have to do is retweet or “like” a post. No thinking required. When we follow the against-it path, we don’t have to be in the spotlight, voice what we believe, solve a problem or offer a solution. We can finger-point, blame, or identify shortcomings without engaging in ideas or alternatives.
I don’t risk failure if I identify flaws in someone else’s approach rather than develop, pitch, and execute my own. I don’t have to look inward at where I work or shop when I can rant over executive compensation, rather than standing firm to work at or buy from only companies that offer fair compensation, at every level. And I don’t have to deal with conflict or social media “dislikes” if I can rant against someone else’s stance, thinking, or beliefs, in alignment with like-minded followers, friends or family.
This may seem like semantics. But, it’s not. The difference between being for something versus being against something is significant. Being for something requires more backbone, independent thinking, and integration between who you are and how you operate.
When you’re for something, you work towards what you want to bring about or contribute to, and that shifts your personal accountability, energy, and commitment.
In the scheme of things, what I’ve come to know for myself is this: being in the against-it camp holds me down, limits my passion, narrows my ideas, and stunts my contributions. But when I tap a bit of soul-courage and work for something I believe in, want to bring about, or positively contribute to, there is a palpable shift. Tapping something bigger than self touches a core-self and enables the best of who you are. That changes everything. It not only feels different; it is different.
What about you? What do you aspire to bring about in your life? Be for that. What do you value? Be for that. What do you want more of in your family, workplace, community, country? Be for that.