You think you’re not worthy
I have to say I agree
I’m not worthy of you
You’re not worthy of me
- Ani DiFranco
Who among us is worthy? What does it mean to be worthy? These are lifelong questions of mine, and I don’t suppose I can expect to answer them for myself in any concise, tidy way. “Worthy” seems related to being “good enough” and yet seems to push many levels beyond mere adequacy. If it’s so bloody hard to feel barely adequate, what kind of herculean effort will it it take to feel worthy?
We are endlessly tripped up by circumstance, it would seem, much of it out of our control. Who among us does not succumb to anxiety, rage, jealousy, pettiness, or the stasis of indifference or denial? We are so vulnerable, so fallible. We fall, again and again. We follow illusions. We pursue mirages on the horizon, hoping that if we can just arrive there, our thirst can be sated. Over and over we make mistakes, we cause harm, we are hog-tied by delusions even as we believe that we walk unencumbered, possessing freedom of will.
I think I’m still laboring under the erroneous belief that “worthy” must mean “infallible.” This can’t be so. If it’s so then absolutely no one is worthy, and my heart revolts at such a thought. There are those who believe that humans are irredeemable, and there’s ample evidence of collective human greed, destruction, and monstrosity around. I can’t fault those who have given up on human worthiness, who have good reason to be filled with rage and disgust. I’m often in that category myself. The emotional calculus shifts, however, when brought face-to-face with kindness, decency, compassion, and love as embodied by mere, imperfect mortals.
I want to light flares of warning about worthiness, to state categorically, beware the impulse to crown anyone a hero; beware, also, the impulse to consider anyone beneath you. We are so prone to idolizing and demonizing. Where does this extreme polarization come from? Is it the natural consequence of our cultural mythology, ruled by competition and domination? Must we all be either winners or losers, sometimes cycling through those titles in the span of days, hours, moments? What if we could strive, instead, to be profoundly worthy? Worthy. Owning up to our mistakes. Having humility. Making amends for the damage. Allowing our hearts to be open, no matter how scarred, battered, and destroyed. Being honest to everyone with whom we associate, especially ourselves. Further, recognizing one’s own simultaneous ordinariness and brilliance, and seeing that in everyone, in its infinite variations.
Either we are all intrinsically worthy, doing the best we can, or none of us are.