Sunday, October 4, 2009

Human doings, human beings

People like to see themselves in the light of what they do, because it's easy enough to measure success or failure: if you climb to the tope of Kilimanjaro, you're a successful climber; if you save someone's life, you're a hero; if you arrive at work, your driving can't be that bad. Right? Actions are easy to label. 

I've heard that ants, who lose the scent trail that they follow, can end up following each other in an endless circle.  These ants can carry on in this 'circular mill' until they collapse or die. If they're lucky, they can lose their way again, thus escaping the circular mill. If this doesn't happen, all they have is a perpetuation of a perpetuation: on and on it goes.

The cultures we inhabit can be much the same. Fashion, technology, consumerism, religion and any number of the things we encounter in culture are often just perpetuations of perpetuations; copies of copies of copies. No one remembers why they do things. They just know they need to do them. These circular mills are so dangerous for the soul, and are very easy to trigger – as a friend of mine pointed out to me, "there's such a lot of energy, a sense of being 'in', a feeling of moving forward together". Circular mills cause us to mistake movement for progress. So, we do a lot, and we give what we do a name, but we still have no idea who we are.

To get out of the circular mill, all we need is a point of  reference point outside of the circle – what I like to call a transcendent point of attention. This point of attention doesn't have to be static but it should give a sense of whether we are on the right track in all that we do. I believe wholeheartedly that this transcendent point of attention is Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Zaccheus the Pharisee, the God who calls Himself "I Am"... All that God does comes out of who He is. And surely we can learn from that? Surely we should figure out who we are first before we climb Kilamanjaro or drive to work? 

I think people are so obsessed with what they do, because they've forgotten who they are, and it's both scary and embarrassing for them to have to admit that. 

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