14 Dec What Is Greatness?
What does it mean to be great? In the United States we just had an election where the victor went on and on about making the country “great again”. There were no numbers or metrics, in other words facts, provided to show the US had fallen from greatness, just a deluge of opinions which fed on the fears and resentments of a section of the population.
Now I’ve refrained from touching on politics in my writing, but politics, in my opinion, are the product of how we agree things should be done. They are an expression of how we treat ourselves and others. Yoga is also about how we treat ourselves and others, so I believe yoga has a lot to say about politics. Given the direction of discourse in the United States, and the level of disinformation and denial of fact (mainly from the right), I’ve decided that the best course for my writing is to discuss current events in the light of yogic principles. These principles are clarity of awareness, critical thinking, and acknowledgement of facts regardless of whether those facts align with preexisting opinions.
To begin this new direction let’s talk about greatness and what that really is.
Greatness is looking at the results of all of your actions and owning the results of those actions when those results have a negative effect. It’s striving to do better next time, in order to have a positive affect on everyone and everything involved.
Greatness is not denying when your actions and had a negative affect on others, or lashing out when someone points out that your actions have been selfish, harmful, or negative in anyway.
Greatness begins, and can only begin, when there is a willingness to see things as they actually are. Greatness cannot happen in the presence of denial. We cannot say that someone is wrong when they do something, but that we are justified when we do that same action.
Now, in reality, life is complicated, and things are not cut and dry, or black-and-white. It is best to be honest; in most cases lying is harmful. Yet, at times, it is best not to be brutally honest, and at other times it may be best to withhold information in order to protect someone or something. The problem is this idea of when to be totally honest, and when to hold back, is used as an excuse quite often to engage in harmful activity and to avoid responsibility.
So what is greatness to you? In detail, define what it means to be great in every level of your life.
Is greatness physical strength, or amassing a large amount of money? Is it dominating others in some way in order to amass something of value? Or is greatness taking part in making our society one where every person has value? A place where everyone has an opportunity to achieve their dreams?
I’ve held ideas of what greatness is in my mind my whole life, even if I haven’t been able to express those ideas clearly. But here goes. Greatness, to me, is standing up for others and ensuring that everyone has a chance to improve themselves and the lives of those around them. Greatness is elevating oneself in each moment, and striving to be a better person today than we were yesterday. It’s not just working for our own personal opportunities and enrichment, it is working together, recognizing that in order for our society to offer opportunities for us, those opportunities have to be available to every person.
This is also very similar to how I define freedom.