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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Our Deepest Fear

I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for those emotionally saturated inspirational speeches which seem obligatory in any film about teaching or coaching. Or waging war, for that matter (draw your own conclusions here).

Too often, of course, these speeches are heavy on rhetoric and light on reality. "Forty Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes," for example, was an instant hit video, in that it lets us play detective as we try to name all the movie clips featured. At the same time, however, it's truly hilarious, since the collective "words of wisdom," when seen in transcript form, express absolute gibberish.

That's also why you have to love a truly inspirational movie clip, which even divorced from its context will still ring true. "Our Deepest Fear," a widely circulated poem which is actually not a poem at all, is one of these inspirations. The excellent feature film Coach Carterroughly paraphrases the words from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

For teachers, these words could not hold a more profound truth. Too often we are quick to bash our fellow teachers who make an effort to really make a difference. We think to ourselves, "What is he trying to prove? What is he trying to do, make us look bad?" And we worry about how we'll pale by comparison when scrutinized by parents or administrators.

Well, those of us who have felt that way about our colleagues have it all wrong. And conversely, those of us who have willingly chosen to be mediocre for fear of standing out or making our peers "look bad by comparison" have it all wrong as well.

Teachers, your playing it small does not serve the world, nor your students, nor your own dignity and integrity. Instead, let your own light shine, and give permission for your peers to do the same.


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