On 21 November 2009, Karen announced to her readers (in very colorful language) that she’s an alcoholic.
While Karen did a great job of covering up her secret, and managed to offer great advice and personal insights with her readers, without them ever knowing she was wrestling with her own dark demons; people usually respond to such news with a default response: she’s only human.
Such responses tend to define human beings by what they lack, rather than what they possess.
There are many people who wish to see others fail so they can reassure themselves that it’s OK for them to fail. They hunt for weaknesses in other people so they can avoid working on their own.
It’s not our weaknesses that make us human, but our strengths.
When I read Karen’s confession, I didn’t think: Phew! I knew she has weaknesses!
I thought: Wow! How many personal development writers have the guts to speak honestly to their readers, and the courage to publicly confront their weaknesses?
I’m not sure if I have what it takes to do what Karen did.
What makes Karen human isn’t her alcoholism.
It’s her honesty. It’s her courage. It’s her dedication to personal growth.
Being human isn’t the default. We must strive to be human.
Being human is heroic, and it’s very rare to find people willing to do what it takes to be human.
Karen is human for the strengths she demonstrates. Her alcoholism is what she chips away to reveal what she’s made of.
If you’re interested in literature that portrays a heroic view of Man, you might like to read my take on Rudyard Kipling’s “If”