Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No Excuse

I went to U2 last week with a dear friend of mine. The whole time, I was so excited, seeing my favorite band, my favorite celebrity, people who have not just inspired me with their music but with their passion to create a better world. This is a band whose music has calmed me during times of stress and whose mission motivates me to push forward with all that I believe in. The whole time, I kept screaming, "I can't believe I'm seeing Bono!" My friend looked at me and said, "Who knows? Maybe someone someday will say, 'I can't believe I'm seeing Katie!'"

Immediately, I rebuked him. I'll admit, I'm a very proud person, it's my biggest flaw, and I just don't take compliments well. Looking back, I feel bad, because I know he meant it, but at the time, I just could not stand an accusation of greatness. Yet, it was an event I went to tonight, an event on Interfaith Leadership with Eboo Patel as the speaker, that made me realize I had no excuse. I do no good hiding behind my insecurities. Humility does not come from being less of who I am but from being all of who I am, all of the time.

Throughout the talk, Mr. Patel brought up several points. One of his key points was that the population of Iraq, Afghanistan, and India, all troublesome spots in our world, are very young populations. Disadvantaged youth are hearing a message of faith that is only accompanied by a gun or a bomb. At the same time, religious leaders who have made a difference, such as Gandhi, Dr. King, and the Dalai Lama, all started their leadership in their late teens/early twenties. As the head of my school's Interfaith Council and as a young person myself, these stories hit me hard.

I've always wanted to do something great, to define my life by a life of courage, service, and compassion but have always felt I wasn't good enough, talented enough, intelligent enough, faithful enough, or kind enough. Yet I feel God has been correcting me in that regard. I would say, "I wish I could combine music and international issues like Bono." "Bono didn't read music when he started and he didn't finish college. You do both things." "I wish I could be as great as Mother Teresa." "She did her work despite little opportunity. You have been given a lot." "I wish I could (insert whatever)." "Well, my child, DO IT!"

It's an absolute sin to hide who you are, to wall yourself in the mask of insecurity, for fear of greatness. That's not humility. That's pride masquerading as such. It walls you inside yourself and prevents you from being great, from shining your light to all people and living as who you were made to be. The leaders of the world did not focus on their own securities. They focused on the work that needed to be done and the talents and skills they could offer to do it. I know I myself could do better with that.

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