When we talk about submitting an assignment or other piece of work, this verb is often viewed as a process, the action of uploading or physically presenting something for assessment.
That’s what I’ve done this week with my PhD thesis. But in doing so, I started thinking about the concept of submission.
We’ve come to think of submission as weakness. We perhaps picture a dog rolling on its back to show its belly to a more dominant Alpha male in the pack. Or a defeated lion slinking off after losing a fight. Does submission means walking away from arguments or losing out in negotiations? Submission is for losers? Losers who are subjugated by winners?.
The word submission derives from the Latin, submittere. Its meaning relates to presenting for judgement.
Submission means asking others to assess us and our work. Presenting to people with the authority to judge – who are qualified to come to an informed decision.
There is a responsibility in such judging. This is not about being vindictive or seeking to humiliate as we often see with television talent shows.
When we submit to such assessment we are hoping for a fair hearing. We view those who are expert in making decisions as having opinions that are worth listening to. We trust them.
As such, it is a mark of achievement to receive a favourable outcome from our submission.
The same is true of the dog on its back. It is asking the other dog for permission – to use its power wisely, to be merciful in judgement. In fact, to go further the dominant dog is being asked to take responsibility for the dog that has submitted. To take account of the implications of its judgement.
As well as having my PhD thesis submission assessed, I have been asked to review the 2016-17 Behindthespin #bestPRblogs by Richard Bailey. I have the responsibility of selecting a winner from a shortlist of exceptional young PR bloggers. Moreover, as the first female judge of the four year old initiative, I seem to have an additional responsibility. There’s an implication that my assessment may differ from the previous male judges.
Yes, I bring a feminist perspective to my review of the submissions, but the only thing that affects my decision is the quality of the blogs. Not my gender or that of the shortlisted bloggers. That’s not to say that gender is not a factor in the quality of the blog posts, as I would expect the writers’ personalities to be evident in their work. I favour insight, integrity, intelligence and imagination. Those are gender neutral characteristics, but flavoured by individual identity.
My view is that in submitting their work for consideration, these talented students are not demonstrating weakness. I trust their strength of character will be evident in the work they present as their public face through their blogs. They are responsible for the submission they have constructed. I take responsibility for judging this fairly. Likewise, I take full responsibility for the work that I have submitted .
In life we are constantly submitting ourselves for others to judge. At the same time, we pass judgement all of the time.
In doing so we have a responsibility for ourselves as well as others. Or rather, others have a responsibility for themselves as well as us.
Of course, there are some things to which we should not submit. Many times when we should stand up and talk back rather than be judged in a way that is unacceptable. In such cases people may think that it is a sign of toughness to be able to take criticism. But it is not.
True character is evident in the things that we will not put up with. Whether that relates to when people judge others or when they judge us. Submission is not weakness. When enough is enough, the bravest are those who reject the opinions and behaviours of those who are unfit to stand in judgement.
This week I’ve experienced the lightness that follows from submitting your work for judgement. I’ve also witnessed the relief that results from walking away when others are not worthy of making judgements. Either way, submission is strength not weakness.