An SMS (text message for the rest of you) made its way to my phone, today morning.
There is no such thing as a 'self-made man' v r made up of 1000s of others Evry1 who has evr done a kind deed for us Or spoken 1 word of encouragement to us Has entered in2 the make-up of our character and of our thots Gud Mrng Dost ;)
It was a scary message at first sight.
I usually disregard the feel-good messages that pour in every morning. For one, I hate txtspk. Secondly, I doubt if most people really read and pay attention to the message before forwarding it to their address books – not friends – the address book. There is a difference. Where and when possible I often politely request to strike me off these motivational messages. There are a few exceptions, and therefore, this slightly frightening thought, landed in my phone’s inbox.
Men (and women) are self-made, no matter what. They may – slightly or hugely – be influenced by a few others or a thousand others, yet, they make of themselves by their own choice and by their own doing. No one makes anyone. The thought in the SMS above may resonate well for those who are self-less or self-denying, or even those who have a self-sacrificing, altruistic worldview. It does not, for me.
There is another side to this message that seems to be conveniently missing. It talks of the positive influence — what of the negatives? That should count in equal measure, shouldn’t it? So if a successful person is a product of the influence of a thousand others, what of the utter failure? Do we take ownership of failure but attribute our success to others? The very thought seems incongruous and just-crossing-the-border-of-ridiculous to me. We are influenced equally by the devil and divine that resides in the people who exert influence(s) in our lives. While the SMS itself doesn’t talk of the devil’s play, it is perhaps implied (attributing the common notion of success with the phrase, “self-made man”).
It is almost an inversion of a beautiful story from our childhood: The Brahmin and the Cow
I do not deny that we are influenced by others, that we learn from others, and that we are motivated by the encouraging feedback we get from them – which strengthens our resolve and therefore our character too, but to deny a human any credit (“there is no such thing”) in the developing his or her character is an extreme state.
When life takes a turn to the side of darkness, we are usually called upon to take responsibility for our actions and act to repair. When things brighten up, we should ask the same and take full responsibility for it.
To deny me my hand in my making is to deny my be-ing.