Father Joseph V. Corpora, CSC, ’76, ’83 M.Div. | August 15, 2018
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes words that have both consoled and perplexed Christians of all eras. He says: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” These words can sometimes sound nice — maybe even holy, in spiritual conversations — but what could they possibly mean in our day-to-day lives that so revolve around strength, racing to the top and staying there, and being number one?
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We live in a world where people sign off on emails and letters with the word “best.” What does this mean? Best? Best what? Best Buy? Best show on the road? Best in Show at the 4-H Fair? Best chili in Texas? Best show in town? I often wonder what all those people are doing with the time that they are saving by not writing Best Wishes or Best Regards. In reaction to the deluge of “bests,” I often sign off with “Average” or “In the 15th percentile.”
You might think that I’m making something out of nothing. Though I would often like to be God, I’m not — so I’ll leave the making something out of nothing to Him! I think that the use of the word “Best” is a real problem. It gets into our consciousness in a way I think is ultimately unhealthy, and it can encourage us to not be honest about our weaknesses or faults or failings and the very important role that they can play in our lives. After all, we want to be best. That doesn’t leave much room for faults and weaknesses.
Here’s another example from our modern life. Every workshop, every conference, every meeting you go to now eventually deals with “best practices.” When I submit a proposal to talk at a conference, I often note that I am going to talk about “worst practices.” Most of us have learned more from our failures than from our successes. Most of have learned much more from what we have done wrong than from what we have done correctly. And yet there is such an aversion to talking about “worst practices.”
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