Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sexy Autonomy

I am sure that you have all heard the popular and incredibly chic phrase, “I am simply an autonomous complex structure of biology expressing my own thoughts, my own desires, and my own freedoms. I am an individual; free to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. Please do not enter the personal twenty-one inch stratosphere bubble of me….because it’s mine.” Oh…you haven’t heard this incredibly popular phrase before? Well, maybe that is because I just spent the sum total of all my intellectual powers crafting what is sure to become a popular and incredibly chic phrase. Or not. It is a sexy idea though isn’t it? In actuality, the vast majority of us subscribe to this idea that individuality is the most important attribute that any human can posses. The great traditions of philosophy, world religion, and humanism, have jumped in bed together, made out, and produced the most individualistic (read here: lonely) culture that mankind has ever seen. Your mom, your future spouse, your mailman, the cashier at the checkout (or the cashier you check out), your neighbor, your leaders, your professors, and that weird nut-job you see most days in the mirror have all felt the impact of the lonely and individualistic culture of now.

For years, anthropologists, linguists, and archeologists have wondered in awe at the supposed simultaneous development of great empires and civilizations around the planet that rose up, matured, got sick, died, and left artifacts and ancient clues to the nature of these peoples. Most interestingly is the fact that there is theory based on new* archeological findings that place ancient tools and ideas (such as language) in geographical places that they should not be. The implication? Ancient peoples migrated, traveled, and shared ideas across cultural lines that ultimently led to the evolution, development, growth, and sometimes destruction of the respective civilizations. In our typical self-centered fashion, we eagerly and egotistically consider our generation to be the first in the age of globalization, the universal people, and the global village. Fact is that people groups, since the beginning of civilizations, have always inspired other people groups around the world – we are just now aware of it. But really….who cares.

Well I do. In fact, all of us have been impacted by the thoughts, actions, values, and ideologies of other people. There is no one who can say they exist without outside influence. Yet, the thought remains that individualism is the highest of all human attributes. Why? Because we are as selfish as a daycare full of two year olds, as greedy as overfed boxing day shoppers, and as prideful as any gangster rapper on any given radio station. We just like ourselves so much.

Individualism thrives on the belief that the primary importance of the individual is the "virtues of self-reliance" and personal independence. The virtues of self hey? Interesting. That sounds a lot like saying, “the cooler part of hell” or “coffee is good even when it is burnt.” Where did we ever get this idea that being the individual was good? I know it wasn’t from God’s word the Bible or from the Holy Spirit teaching us. I do know that the Bible has a lot to say about selfish ambitions, pride, and greed though.

Ok – how is that for an incomplete thought – anyone want to add to this or finish it? Seriously.


Dan Richardson said...

I love myself too...and only cause I freakin rock! (Me and my minivan...yessssss) I don't know where this came from...this desire to be the best at everything so everyone can bow down and kiss my big fat hairy...toe. Even with Adam and Eve (I know this is trite...but true), they had this inate desire to be the want it be like God...I know God didn't create that desire but gave us free will...but why is it that the free will we have always wants what we want? Why does it want to further me more just so I'm better than everyone else? Did it just show up? Interesting thought..and you are in fact correct if you thinking"This guy has no idea what he's talking about"...cause I have no stinkin idea! (btw, it's almost coffee time again)

Dan Richardson said...

Oh ya...and I'm pretty darn sexy too!

Anonymous said...

I think it is just a problem of identity. People don't recognize that they truely are unique, but search for a worldly definition of unique- hence why you get all these varying genres of style, music, and, in general, self-presentation.

However, I think it is more than selfish ambitions, pride, and greed. It seems that the whole concept of 'self-actualization' has poisoned our society/culture and people just want to figure out who they truely are. It's a desire to want to be something that no one else is- even as a Christian, it may be hard to find uniqueness- for example, you, Jeremy Postal, are a child of God- just like every body else.

The bible does talk about community, and how it is good. But, at the same time- God works with individuals- individuals that make up the body of Christ. So, in that sense, there is a biblical aspect of individualism- but it still is embedded in the communal aspect of it all.

This just seems more like a pointless rant than anything... yeah. I'm done.

Anonymous said...

If you're going by a problem of identity then it ultimately leads back to being selfish again; people look for who they are in the world so they can have some control over the result. They pick what they like from different people and places and add them all up to say "this is me", when really, they can't find who they are in the world because the world is a tainted version of what they're supposed to be. If people spent their lives striving to be the creation that God originally created them to be they would not only be a lot less selfish, they would be a lot less confused.