Life Lessons from an Agnostic Cynic

Erik Cooper —  November 2, 2011 — Leave a comment

It’s rare I pass along spiritual lessons from a confessed agnostic cynic, even if it is just a television character. But in a strange way, I think God’s been using my fascination with an imaginary TV doctor to grow me a little bit.

Hugh Laurie’s brilliantly caustic portrayal of Gregory House, M.D. has invaded our living room every Monday night for the last 5 years.

I love him. He’s everything I’m not (and maybe a few things I daydream of being).

Gloriously flawed. A drug addict. Relationally inept. A morass of arrogant condescension. Nothing you would aspire to in real life (at least not if you want other people in it). But there’s one thing he demands of his medical team that has forced me into some serious self-diagnostics.

Have an opinion!

Express what you think. Defend it. Feel it. Own it. Fight for it. Passionately contend for it.

Or you’re fired.

You’re no good to House and no good to the patient if you don’t bring your ideas to the table. And with conviction. Even if they’re stupid, they may act as a backhoe for excavating something revolutionary out of someone else. If you’re going to insist on being spineless, go into politics. In medicine, people’s lives are at stake. Get over yourself. Courage isn’t optional.

A lot of us hide behind an ugly self-protection mechanism that masquerades as humility or agreeableness. The truth? Fear far too often keeps us imprisoned inside ourselves. Saying what we should instead of being who we are.

Fear of ridicule.

Fear of shame.

Fear of being wrong.

We’re obsessed with protecting our fragile ego, and in turn, we live in a constant state of hibernation. That’s the real shame.

So here’s the challenge I’ve issued to myself.

Have an opinion. Express the opinion.

It might be the dumbest thing anyone has ever heard, or it just might be the revolution the world’s been waiting for. If you don’t share it, we’ll never know.

Have an opinion. Express the opinion. Be willing to look stupid. To be wrong (spectacularly wrong). To offend someone. To be ridiculed. You’re big enough to handle it. The world is waiting for you to realize that, too.

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