The Problem Of Empowerment
Most recently I was watching Kelly Clarkson’s daytime show in which she introduced a teenage girl who was getting praised for being “empowered“ and for “empowering young girls everywhere.” The 15 year-old girl, Casey, had launched her own clothing line.
We are a culture which prizes that our young people feel acknowledged and accepted as individuals. We do this because we want our children to have self-esteem; we want them to feel good about themselves, to never, ever feel guilty, or wrong, or different, or unusual, or ugly. To each child we empower them to believe they were born perfect and beautiful, to the point that these same children have a skewed and unrealistic view of reality. They have not learned the value of failure, something that teaches us the most valuable lessons in life. We have robbed children of the experience of failure because we think they can’t handle it.
From whence comes all of this power, might and protection? Why are the young encouraged to believe they are great vestibules of strength, wisdom and inspiration – by the mere act of existence?
Today’s culture pampers young people to believe they are adult-like when they are not and are made to believe they are brilliant when they are mostly ignorant of living and pretty normal, even just average.
It is, in fact, a form of child abuse when we fail to prepare our children for the tough challenges ahead in life and and the disappointing outcomes one can expect. It is our responsibility to prepare these young minds for that day when they realize the world doesn’t give a damn about their so-called empowerment.
This is why ‘safe zones’ were invented: to shield immature adults who were made to feel too important as children. They can’t handle the real truth that the world is sometimes ugly, confusing and difficult.
The human ego will take in as much admiration as you give it, and no good ever comes from a child whose self-importance is so inflated they can never learn to live with any failure, mistake or mishap.
Spoiled children grow up to be spoiled adults.
Most despots were spoiled adults who give little regard or compassion for others. Most rapists were once spoiled children who were never told no; addicts are oftentimes people who simply cannot handle the stress of daily living. Spoiled children are the ones shooting people in broad daylight, hitting people for no reason and stealing openly in broad daylight because they believe they are empowered. This is what empowerment does, it asserts self over other selves. It leads to a feel of absolute entitlement.
In Nigeria, young boys aged from 8 to 12 are kidnapped and brainwashed through empowerment techniques. Watch the film Blood Diamond, its portrayal of how children are kidnapped and turned into stone-cold killers is chillingly accurate.
Lucifer was empowered. This once high angel of light believed he was empowered to the point where even God no longer existed in his mind, which gave Lucifer unbridled liberty to do as he pleased. This same false doctrine of empowerment is being taught everyday to our kids through media and education, setting them up to live in a world where only disappointment will come, because they never learned to deal with occasional failure. They were instead empowered with the notion that world serves their needs.
In China, a nation of mostly single child families, children received so much admiration and respect growing up they are unable to deal with the pressures of taking care of their parents and providing financial support to their own family is overwhelming. China has the highest suicide rate per capita of any developed country.
This empowerment talk is derived from Freud’s psychology from the 20th century, where other words like ego, the id and self-esteem were introduced as psychological tools, as Freud believed society, by removing guilt and fear of failure, could manipulate personality into becoming “well-balanced individuals.” One man’s theory’s has turned all of us into mind-manipulators who believe if we shower our children with kindness and respect, they will grow up completely happy. Then there arose concepts like special achievement awards and participation certificates so that no one ever gets to last place; there were no longer “winners and losers,” but merely participants. Today in many schools they are removing grade-assignment so that children will not feel bad if they don’t do well on tests. Everyone goes home a winner, my wife used to say.
Children are never to be misguided into thinking they can “be something special” by merely showing up. Being special should mean being exceptional for doing something, not being average. If this were not true then having an Olympic Gold Medal would be meaningless if everyone received the same medal. Competition is what drives human beings to excel. When we remove this apparatus because we worry a child might have hurt feelings if they “lose;” we are actually teaching the child it’s okay to fail.
As standards are lowered, so follows performance. Do we want to produce a generation of adults who are average but are told they are special? What kind of engineers will we produce, or doctors, or accountants? If 70 percent becomes acceptable (average), are you okay with your doctor being 70% accurate in diagnosis or even in surgery? Do you want your mechanic to have a proficiency of 70% when he fixes your breaks, or do you praise him for being a special mechanic because he showed up for work?
Today we are awash in empowered underachievers, people who believe they are more important than they really are; some even have fame and some fortune because the media amplifies the empowerment message: If I can be empowered then so can you.
The next time you hear a kid tell you they are empowered, remind them that until they bring home a paycheck, learn to provide for their own food and can deal with changing diapers of an infant, being empowered to do homework and chores is the only kind of empowerment that matters.
True empowerment comes from learning how to deal honestly and courageously with life when facing its many diverse challenges – and not giving up to failure.
Science shows that kids who grow in environments where there is discipline, hard choices, and yes, disappointments, then these children are more likely to grow up with a well-balanced and poised personality.