My friend Barbara Smith of Tuscaloosa tells of a college lit class in which the professor sat and lectured the entire time without a word of response from the class.
There was a reason for the silence.
Early in the semester, the professor had told the class that under his teaching they would learn to love Shakespeare so much they would eat, sleep, and drink Shakespeare. Barbara says, “Some idiot in the back of the classroom called out, ‘Yeah, right,’ and that set the professor off. He yelled and screamed at that student for a while, then shouted, ‘You sir do not deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us. Get out!'”
Barbara says, “After that public humiliation, no one dared open their mouth the rest of the semester.”
No one enjoys being publicly humiliated. And most of us will go to great lengths to make sure it never happens.
We use deodorant, never wear some of the things in our closet, take a shower each morning, brush and floss and use mouth wash, and we carry a handkerchief. In almost every case, the reason we do these things is not because we feel a sense of personal need, that we are dirty, etc. We do not want to risk giving offense to others or humiliating ourselves.
Anyone who has spent any time in front of the television has seen videos of gymnasts on balance beams and high crossbars falling in the most excruciating and embarrassing manners. To master their difficult art, these courageous athletes must throw off all caution and abandon themselves to this jump or that twist or that somersault. They know going in that before they get the precise path correct, they will fall again and again, providing film enough for a dozen television shows. That they persevere to triumph is a testament to their incredible courage and steely determination.
If the worst thing that can happen to you is to publicly humiliate yourself, then you will never want to–