How Do I Know When I’m Ready?

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I have a dilemma, and I’m so confused… I’m not even sure how confused I am.

It comes alongside a confession as well.

Just One Step Ahead

Know When to Teach

I was a teacher for a decade. I know this is likely quite common for many teachers, nevertheless, if so it remains mostly unspoken. Certainly outside the sphere of the educational institute.

There were many times along the way I was just one step ahead of my students. Never behind, but often only a teeny little bit ahead. Far enough that I was successfully able to educate, but not far enough that my confidence was spilling over.

Teachers are supposed to be subject matter experts. But quite often they’re not. They’re teachers. They’re not scientists, mathematicians, or historians. Their goal is to have the information in their own minds ready for that day’s class, and be prepared enough to successfully hand that knowledge over to other people, according to that class’ age and capability.

When Do You Know You’re Ready?

Know When You're Ready

But it’s a rough situation. It’s uncomfortable to only feel one step ahead.

But when are you far enough ahead that the comfort finally arises?

I think about this a lot because I inadvertently became an advocate for Israel on Quora. I answer questions all the time, hoping to portray a positive perspective on the situation in Israel. And ideally I want to make an impact on a community that goes way outside the boundaries of my home.

But am I qualified to do so?

It’s a question that bothers me daily.

History and Current Events

Know the News

Understanding the complexities of Israel’s history is not easy. There are so many details, and so many details that are controversial as well. I try to stay on top of both the history and the current events, and to read multiple perspectives, but to really understand everything is a daunting and overwhelming task.

But that’s just the beginning!

History must be understood in context. What if Israel is compared to another nation? What if other wars are referenced? Or journalists, publications, and declarations by assorted nations and human rights groups?

Should I really be expected to know everything about all of these items?

Certainly not. It’s not reasonable or feasible. When I answer questions on this forum, I do not do so as an historian. Or a subject matter expert. I do so as a concerned Israeli civilian, who despite having his own issues and concerns with Israel, is a fervent supporter of the IDF, truth, the Jewish people, destroying terrorism, and keeping Israel safe.

A Daunting Responsibility

Know Your Resonsibility

But any word that exits my mouth still carries with it some level of authority, and that’s a responsibility I find intimidating.

And any time I make an error or see things through a lens that isn’t universally accepted, the world of Quora isn’t exactly kind in showing its disagreement.

If I’m having a lively discussion with a friend and we come to some level of friction, there’s a certain process. A way things unfold. If I say the death penalty makes sense to me for reasons A, B, and C, but they have powerful counterpoints of X, Y, and Z, we make our respective points, continue drinking our whiskey, and at the end of the day, we go home still friends. Tomorrow is a new day, and yesterday’s spirited chat has no impact on today’s banter about sports or work.

But the online world is unforgiving. I’ve probably been called a liar more times in the last few months than the rest of my life combined. It’s unpleasant, don’t get me wrong, but meaningless in the big picture. These are not people whose opinions I necessarily respect. And I tend to never care about the perspectives of those who taint their arguments with taunts and insults.

Speaking… Unready

Know Public Speaking

Nevertheless, it gives me pause. I’m a thoughtful enough person to realize my own inadequacies. I recognize that I could have read a lot more books growing up. I could have paid more attention to a few more teachers. I could have spent more time watching documentaries and not Cheers.

But it begs the question: When is one ready to begin defending something they believe strongly?

I don’t think there’s a clear answer to that question. And I think it becomes further complicated by the fact that I also believe there is a second war occurring as we speak. And that’s a PR battle, one we are most certainly losing. And I think it is the duty of every capable person to stand their ground and say what needs to be said.

First of all, if we don’t, then a tremendous void is left behind. A perspective that needs to be heard is just left to be filled in by scores of people who will say something painfully different from what we believe.

But even more so, if we have the power to impact just one person’s perspective, to influence just one individual to see things differently, how can we toss that obligation off of ourselves?

It Feels Right

Know What Feels Right

I’m not delusional. I don’t think for a moment I can change the minds of a fanatic. I don’t even think I could necessarily change the mind of an eccentric ignoramus who has chosen a side for whatever reason and likes to run around treating that choice as gospel.

But there are millions of thinking people out there. Those who are willing to listen to logic and multiple perspectives. Those who have not dogmatically already chosen what they believe based on minimal exploration or contemplation.

And that’s where influence lies. That’s the zone where it’s possible to make a difference.

But doing so constantly reminds me of how little I know. Am I knowledgeable enough to represent my nation? Am I sharp enough, patient enough, and diplomatic enough to make a difference without making things worse?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. All I know is it feels like I’m making a positive difference. It feels like I’m doing the right thing. And it also feels like I’m pretty good at it.

So I have to ask myself all the time: On the chance that I’m right, and I should pursue these opportunities despite fears of inadequacy, do I even have the right to not continue?

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