EDITORIAL by Oliver Mbamara:
In today's world there are several kinds of freedom of expression including the idea to say, think, and live the way one likes. The theory and practice has been helped by psychotherapists, life-coaches, religious preachers, and even mentors urging their clients, patients, or audiences to build self-confidence by believing in themselves and in who they are without allowing others to change or influence them. Accordingly we have seen individuals making statements like these among many others: "I am me and won't change for anyone." "I love who I am." "This is me, like it or not, I don't care." "Only me can decide what's good for me." "It's my life, you have no say in it."
Indeed, there are unique characters that truly define a person and persons should be allowed to be themselves so long as they do not go about offending others while insisting in characters that do more wrong than good. At some stage in life (or in the case of inferiority complex), some individuals need to be reassured to believe and have confidence in themselves, in how they look and who they are. Self-ego is an essential part of the human component and survival, so it is necessary to have enough of it to push us to strive to survive, to interact reasonably with others, to stand our grounds for our rights, to protect ourselves from bullies, and so on. If repeating affirmative slogans or mantras are helpful, then good enough. However, it becomes of concern when people use the same rationale as an excuse to abuse the same freedom they purport to want for themselves. Some use the theory as an excuse to continue indulging in behaviors that are actually detrimental to themselves and others.
When to Help And When Not To: This piece accepts the position that it is important to respect other people's space and their properties, including what they think of themselves and how they like to behave. Yet, it is common knowledge that addicts are usually the last ones to accept that they have an addiction problem. Children (or inexperienced individuals) sometimes want to do that which they think is best for them even when such is actually potentially harmful to them. So what does one do when an addict or a misguided individual or child say things like the following? "If you don't like what I do then leave me alone." "If you want me to change, then you don't love me." "I am me and won't change for anyone." What do we do when an individual sees something from his perspective and goes ahead to do it without caring who else is harmed by such behavior? Do we encourage their slogan or do we try to help them come to the realization that what they think is good may not be that good for them or those around them?
When faced with these questions, one has to be careful how to answer as it may be confusing sometimes to know when to draw the line or the line may be too thin for one to know when to help or respect the rights and spaces of others. The choice to act is an individual call for there are consequences that could arise when we stop others from going through experiences needed for them to grow, just as there are consequences for failing to act when we are in a clear position to speak out or do something.
Needed Experience: Sometimes an individual may need an experience to become a better person even when we think we should stop them from undergoing such an experience. So a seemingly bad experience may turn out to be good for the subject. At other times, we have a responsibility or obligation to act or say something to help. For example, it is the responsibility of a parent to guide the child in constructive ways until the child is an adult and able to make knowledgeable decisions for himself/herself. It is also the implied duty of a friend or loved one to let a friend or relative know when they are taking the self-believe thing to the extreme. A true friend or loved one will not watch and allow a friend or loved one continue with addiction or engage in a behavior that will inevitably harm the individual or those around him without offering to help. Yet, if such offer of help is rejected one has to respect the rejection and not force an acceptance. The individual will eventually learn.
Helping From the Perspective of Soul: Yet, a more introspective question remains. When an individual says for example - "I am me and won't change for anyone," does the individual mean the "me" that is engaged (or addicted) in questionable behavior that could harm him and others? Does he mean the "me" that is naturally unique in character yet productive and respectful of other people's space? Or does the individual mean the "me" that is Soul wearing the body? Regardless, the fact remains that Soul is the core individual, constant and eternal. Accordingly, if one offers one's help (or respect) to others while adopting the perspective of soul and with love, it would help one know when to draw the line between helping others (showing compassion) and letting them be (respecting their space) so they can have their necessary experience. This is just my understanding, and I am still learning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Oscar Mbamara is an attorney & admin judge, an award-winning filmmaker, actor, poet, and a published writer. For more on Oliver Mbamara, visit www.OliverMbamara.com
NOTE: The thoughts expressed here are personal and do not represent the thoughts of any other person, organization, or religion. However, the thoughts of the writer may have been influenced by his cultural background, understanding of life and the teachings of his religion.