Buzzwords and Being True to Yourself
I have a masters degree in business. For those of you who have received an undergraduate of graduate degree in a business field know about many of the buzzwords in business. Some of these buzzwords include synergy, mission statement, process controls, value-added services, paradigm shift, etc.
In graduate degree business programs, students are often graded on participation. Some students seem to fill their in-class comments with as many buzzwords as possible, but many times, there is no substance behind their comments! Buzzwords—though popular for a time—are usually shallow and meaningless. Buzzwords are often used as an attempt to address a complicated issue with a relatively meaningless and overused phrase.
There is a buzzword (or in this case, a buzz-phrase) that is popular in the gay community: “Be true to yourself.” That phrase sounds like good advice, and taken in the proper context, I believe in that concept. But with any buzzwords and phrases, we need to ask a few questions:
What is the context of the phrase and concept?
What is the appropriate way to apply the concept?
Just as many business students try to address a complicated situation with a simple buzzword, people in the gay community often try to address life’s issues and challenges with buzzwords. Human beings are complicated, and life is complex. How can all the answers to a gay person’s problems in life be found in the expression “be true to yourself” without providing any context or meaningful advice?
This buzz-phrase, like all buzzwords and phrases, needs context. What is a person’s identity? An individual may identify themselves based on several different facets. As an example, let’s say that Hank identifies his top characteristics as follows: “I am a son, a father of two kids, an honest person, a doctor, a child of God, a husband, a sports enthusiast, a gay man, someone who loves God, and a mediocre fisherman.” Given the characteristics of Hank, how does he be true to himself? The answer to this question is not a simple one because Hank’s life has many different facets and dimensions. How can the fleeting advice to Hank to “be true to himself” mean anything of value if it fails to acknowledge his circumstances, challenges, goals, talents, successes, failures, etc.?
The advice to be “true to yourself” is usually given in a vacuum—devoid of any meaningful context. Thankfully, we have guidance to help us apply context to any buzzwords and other words of advice we are given. Such context helps us avoid hollow advice, false teachings, and the temptation to have “itching ears” (See 2 Timothy 4:3). God has given us prophets, scriptures, and the power of prayer (among other tools) to help us properly apply context to the many challenges we face during this life.