Not Reality TV: Just Reality

   This morning there is the daily media “update” on Paris Hilton. Today, it seems her sentence is being shortened due to “good behavior.” Funny, I find her name and the phrase “good behavior” to be an oxymoron. 
   Recently, a 14 year-old boy in our community committed suicide. As if that wasn’t enough tragedy, he was but the latest in a string of adolescent suicides to have occurred within this affluent, suburban school district within the past few years. The roster of successful, and sometimes unsuccessful attempts, includes even the daughter of the Superintendent of Schools who, fortunately, survived. So why write a column about suicide, Paris Hilton, and Donald Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice?  
   Perhaps it’s because the children trying to die and the contestants on The Apprentice are linked by a common thread: the pressure to achieve success at any price. Both are burdened by trying to emulate values and belief systems which have nothing to do with who they are as unique, individually valuable and beautiful human beings. The only difference between the two is timing.  
   The children dying, as well as those trying to die, are mirroring the very real, deadly effect of being disconnected from their higher selves while simultaneously trying to cope with the prospect of insurmountable pressure to achieve academic success.  
   Fast forward a few years in time to the young adults on The Apprentice who’ve managed to circumvent such a tragic end, but who now stand as living proof that the pressure to succeed, in the absence of a moral and spiritual framework, leads to the formation of an egocentric and cut-throat human being whose only goal is to be the last one standing.
   The Apprentice was an early entry into the land of reality TV. I’ve heard people who had panned the Bachelor or Fear Factor or The Osbournes, justifying why The Apprentice is different. No its not. In fact, it brings to light a particularly insidious societal disease claiming more victims than cancer. 
   We revel in vicariously living the lives of famous people…Donald, Diana, Paris…just to name a few. This inclination stems from the fact that we don’t recognize how each of our own lives is unique and has priceless value. We fail to understand that every human life has a purpose to fulfill and a contribution to make.
   When we define ourselves using someone else’s definition, there’s a greater than 50/50 chance they’ll be wrong. The result of that gamble is for us to then live a life based upon feelings of inadequacy for having allowed someone else to define us.
   The solution is to take direction and definition from within…to listen and trust in your own instincts and values. It’s okay to allow others to reflect areas in which you can grow; but never allow others to define who you are, or place an artificial value on your worth.  Define yourself by your strengths and grow yourself through your weaknesses.
   What’s wrong with The Apprentice is that it isn’t “all for one and one for all.”  It’s me for me.  When it’s “all for one and one for all” a natural leader arises and everyone prospers. Everyone on The Apprentice wants to become The Donald, but Trump already has his name on everything. That’s who he is. He’s the best Donald Trump he knows how to be. 
   How sad if the parable is true that when we die and find ourselves before the Creator, apologizing for how we were not as kind as Abraham or as selfless as Jesus or as brilliant as Einstein, the Creator’s loving reply is “I already had an Abraham, a Jesus and an Einstein. Were you the best Carole you could have been?”



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