not to disagree with the president.

And I don’t think I am. But today I heard him say to schoolchildren something about being able to be anything you want. I thought of some friends doing amazing things and I can’t argue with the anything part. Not much.

But if we think that doing anything is the same as doing everything, that being anything is the same as being everything, I think we’re going to be in trouble. Because being something means that there are many things we can’t be.

Sometimes we have to not do something so we can concentrate on that anything. Whatever it is.


3 responses to “not to disagree with the president.

  1. I’ve always struggled with the “you can do anything” philosophy because it simply isn’t true.

    My kids, though US citizens, can never be President (a common example of ‘you can do anything’) because they were born in Canada – something irrevocable and completely out of their control.

    When we tell our kids they can be “anything” we instill in them unrealistic expectations – not of themselves but of the world. “You can be anything” is too easily understood as “you deserve everything.” This leads to all kinds of entitlement issues in young people that lead them to believe that as long as they go through the motions, they are set for life – and life is required to conform to their expectations.

    It’s a crazy redux of the early “me” generation of the 80s that saw the first boomer’s kids graduate with BAs on day one expecting a BMW on day two.

    My kids will be raised to understand that there are things beyond their control, that there are things they can’t be through no fault of their own, and that their choices, from very early in their lives, will irrevocably limit their options.

    BUT! (my pastor refers frequently to the “Biblical but” and I think it applies here)

    But they will also know that they are not alone – and that He is with them on their journey. They will know, if not already, that they are blessed and have the advantage of faith and grace to carry them through difficult times when the world does not meet their expectations.

  2. my first reaction was, “See? Being born in Canada IS good for something.” But that is mean on so many levels.

    A couple thoughts. First, here’s the struggle I have with the “anything” philosophy. I, by nature, can always see the exceptions. And then I give up. “If i can’t do anything, then why try”. But then I look at my friends like Rich Dixon and Glenda Watson Hyatt who do more than I do and are working from a wheelchair and a scooter (respectively) and I have to say, “Okay, maybe not anything, but waaaay more than I ever let myself dream.”

    Second, but part of the reason that people do the “anything” they do is because they somehow understood that it takes really hard work and opportunities and the willingness to give up lots of anythings for the one that matters, that they care about.

    Third, I’m thinking that maybe the better word to use than anything, if you get the inflection right, is “something”. “If you work at it, you can do something.” Something that matters, something that serves people

    Fourth, there are things which at a practical level are impossible and out of our control. It’s your fault, for example, that your daughters weren’t born in the US, not theirs. And they could work hard to amend the Constitution so that they can run for president, but, practically, that’s an unrealistic goal. However, if they said, “I want to have the impact on the lives of the homeless people in the next town over so that their kids have a place to live, a greater impact than the president of the US,” that is a powerful, challenging, useful dream.

    Fifth, I agree with your pastor.

    Thanks for thinking with me.

  3. Better to be the something that God wants you to be than the anything that you want to be. That’s how my husband and I are trying to raise our kids and also how we’re trying to live our lives.