“You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before. The intention is that you need to be self-sufficient.
I’d like to challenge the notion though. I don’t believe anyone is self-sufficient or ever has been. It’s a lie. You literally can’t get through the day without having been helped in some way, shape, or form, by someone else. If you drive, you are driving on roads that someone else built, in a vehicle that was designed by someone else, and built by someone else. Every day, you are touched by many people and what they do to make your life easier. This extends to food, housing, transportation, technology, entertainment, knowledge, family, etc. But if the intellectual argument doesn’t make you question this old saying, try this:
Put on a pair of boots. (or some kind of shoes with laces). Now sit on the floor.
Now try to get up without doing anything else beyond pulling on your shoelaces or the things (straps) that you loop the laces through.
Go ahead, I dare you to.
If you can do it, then I’d love to see video proof.
So why do we think something that is impossible to do is good advice for people who are down because of poverty, brokenness, and other challenges?
We can’t make good assumptions that someone can just get up and get going and improve their life because we are capable of doing that in our current station in life. We don’t all start at a level playing field in life unfortunately. And often we have no idea what someone has been through just to get to where they are now when we encounter them.
It’s much easier to get up by someone pulling you up, than it is by trying to do it yourself. And often, that’s what we actually experience – whether we want to admit it or not. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s one of the most Christ-like things we can do – to pull someone up, to empower someone.