I Believe in Magic
Last night I posted my version of Susan Boyle’s story on the Ode magazine website member exchange (I love Ode, the magazine and website “for intelligent optimists”).
The posting evoked a comment from JeanneMale who said:
So many of us felt the warm glow evoked by Susan Boyle's performance but I'm wondering if I'm the only person that also had a nagging sense that our reaction is somehow sad. Watch as Susan takes the stage; the camera zooms in to the faces of the panel and audience and we see the same amused look of pity that a junior high school bully or popular kid might give to a kid they deem inferior.
Since the beginning of humankind we have been hard-wired to judge others(friend or foe) within the first 30 - 90 seconds of sight but our society has taken JUDGMENT to new lows with much of reality TV. This Darwin mentality isn't healthy for our children - it deepens insecurities and sows mean-spirited behavior. Who is good enough, who is smart enough, rich enough, hot enough, fierce enough, yuck. Judgment is often more harsh than kind so it was beautiful to see how quickly it EVOLVED from harsh to kind instead of the usual DEVOLVE from neutral to mean.
I am not certain that Susan was not just a ratings pawn - this story feels like a repeat of Paul Pott's story that got massive world attention a year or so ago.
I responded thus:
Yes, it’s sad that we judge books by their covers.
But what a tremendous opportunity Susan’s performance presents for people to 1) increase their awareness around that and hopefully then to 2) take steps on an individual level to change.
As someone who never fit in as a child, a teen or young adult, I know all too well how soul destroying it can be to feel alone, excluded, and even ridiculed.
On the positive side, I think my personal experience has helped me to grow into someone who has the capacity to be more compassionate and understanding toward others who may not fit into the mainstream. I’m thankful for that.
(By the way, Fitting in is Overrated, by Leonard Felder, is an excellent book on the topic of “misfits;” I’ve blogged about it here.)
I hadn’t seen Paul Potts’ performance until just now when I looked it up on YouTube. I agree there are uncanny similarities between the two stories. I guess it’s possible that Susan’s performance was a “set-up” that was somehow faked (as a small percentage of YouTube comments suggest).
I choose to believe that Susan’s audition, as well as the reactions of the judges and audience, are genuine. I base that belief on observations of everyone’s body language, the spontaneity with which the audience responds, the judges’ comments, Susan’s reaction (which to me is obviously unrehearsed), and my own intuition.
I believe Susan Boyle proves beyond any doubt that one ordinary person pursuing her dream and her passion can change the world. I think her story will inspire tens of millions of people. (At this point, the YouTube video I’ve been tracking has had over 16 million views - that's in the past six days.)
And the wonderful, magical irony is that the words she sings ("Now life has killed the dream I dreamed"), are the very ones that are now enabling her to make her own dream come to life. The whole thing just fills me with wonder, amazement, joy and hope.
I might be wrong to believe in magic, and to be hopeful.
On the other hand, perhaps we are just as conditioned to be cynical as we are to be judgmental…
It will be interesting to see how Susan Boyle's story evolves over the days, weeks and months to come.
Will it be one of triumph or tragedy? Or both?