The song “No Flex Zone” by Rae Sremmurd barely hit the top 40 and is largely only known to people who pay a lot of attention either to odd rap songs or who troll lists of the worst songs of a given year. Nevertheless, despite its obscurity, the song itself is noteworthy at least for one factor, and that is the way in which the song itself points out a hypocrisy that is common to people and that we can all fall guilty to. Technically, to translate gangsta into English, a “no flex zone” is a place where bragging and exaggeration of one’s wealth or prowess or any other quality is not allowed. It is to be a place of honest and sincere communication rather than macho posing and juvenile plays for dominance. This is ironic in that the song itself is full of its own bragging, as if it was only okay for the obscure rap duo themselves to flex and not anyone else. This sort of self-serving double standard is not likely to be accepted by anyone, since if people are not inclined to flex themselves, they will generally not appreciate others doing it.
I don’t remember when it was that I first realized and despised the phenomenon of flexing. Even as a child, I rapidly became used to my neighbors and classmates or fellow young people at services engaging in flexing, bragging about their sexual expertise or strength or athletic skills. While I am not shy about sharing fun and exciting aspects of my life, I do not feel it is useful at all to brag about what I do not possess. After all, I live a reasonably transparent life, and if there is something I convey about my life that other people are fascinated by, it is far better for them to be impressed by the reality and understand that I may tend to understate than to have to discount everything I say because I have acquired the reputation of someone who exaggerates and puffs up my stories in an attempt to make myself seem cooler than I am. Of course, being someone who isn’t very cool, it wouldn’t be hard to make myself sound cooler than I am.
One of the most reliable ways for authorities to build trust is to live by the same standards we enforce on others. This sounds like an easy thing to do, but it is not an easy thing to manage at all. It is extremely easy to enforce hard standards on others and to consider ourselves to be above the law. I once happened to live in a country whose ruling family stopped traffic in a nation whose traffic is pretty abominable so that they did not have to wait to travel anywhere, even while making everyone else wait for them wherever they went. Likewise, it is easy for people in authority to make demands on others while being extremely aware of their own need for understanding about performance and promises based on the burdens that they are under. We all want to be judged mercifully, but yet it can be hard to be merciful on others when we are concerned about looking weak and being taken advantage of.
What are we to do about this? How is it that we become just people? It is one thing to hate the puffery and exaggeration that we see from others, to lament the fact that it is so hard to trust others, but how do we become trustworthy ourselves? After all, we do not have a great deal of influence on the behavior of others, far less than we would wish. However, if we want to set a good example, we need not look any further than ourselves, for we do have a significant amount of responsibility and influence over our own behavior, what we choose to think and say and do, how we choose to respond to the circumstances that we are faced with. This responsibility does not need to be a cheerless chore or a thankless burden, although it can often seem that way. Instead, it can offer to the world an example that cannot be denied, and is not exaggerated, a mute but eloquent witness of genuine strength in adversity that goes far beyond the flexing that is so common in our world. Do we have the strength of character to live a life that can be a model and an inspiration to others?