Physicality-Locality Problems

Posted on 6 Jan 2011 in Breathe, Reveal | 3 comments

Have you noticed that we don’t really have time or patience anymore? People, I mean. In general. We run ourselves ragged, exhausted. But at the same time, we crave the burnout. We crave the incessant busy-ness of our worlds. We thrive on drama because it gives us something to talk about. We can all be good conversationalists as long as we have something dramatic, bizarre, or strange going on. We have lost the art of making simple, meaningful conversation.
Somehow we have changed. Unless we’re hipsters or armchair philosophers sitting around drinking our particularly particular beverages and pontificating broadly about the world’s ills, few of us take the time to engage in thorough-going intellectually stimulating conversation. Discussions about politics dribble into ‘he-said-she-said’ criticism and blame for all the world’s problems. If we even acknowledge world affairs, it’s only to talk about which side we’re on. Faith, history, philosophy, art, and music have become politically incorrect. They have become taboo by nature of their requirements. They require tension and doubt and willingness to be wrong. It’s rare today to find a conversation partner without their iPhones or tablets. The beauty and mystery of the mind is losing sway as cultural memory drowns softly and swiftly in a sea of technological advances.
Now we learn that ‘appropriate’ conversations center on the immediate and personal – and most often those things that are easily accessible through popular media. Television, celebrity, daily activities…the surface level of our mediocrity. ‘How are you?’ becomes not a heartfelt inquiry, but a salutation, a greeting that requires only acknowledgment – a head nod. Everything by its nature becoming less personal, less intimate, less vulnerable. It’s fine to come from a dysfunctional home—hell, it’s abnormal when someone doesn’t. It’s perfectly acceptable to have addictions, go to ‘meetings,’ support groups, or rehab. Same with stress-management, grief-management, time-management, anger-management. We have become a perpetually hyphenated culture. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about these things and maybe show a little emotion. But our culture has designed a variety and plethora of platitudes to encourage us, assuring us that everything will work out just fine.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it hurts us so badly that our trite little conversations about ‘How you doin’?’ only make things worse. Those empty shallow words that betray the shallow insincerity of the speaker serve only to remind us that we are not allowed our humanity, our vulnerability, our pain, without it needing to be instantaneously, spontaneously, immediately, and completely rectified or removed.
I think we ought to want to get hurt.
I want to feel the pain that reminds me of what it means to be passionate and alive. The aches, pains, tears, anger, and laughter rippling over me like a cold shower. Waking me up. Reviving my senses. Reminding me of life. I want to be allowed time.
Our age requires efficiency, productivity, maximization, cut-backs, and downsizing. Somehow, we as humans have managed to reduce our lives to minutes and meetings that we cannot even remember without our day-planners, palm-pilots, cell-phones, and Microsoft Outlook™. The beauty of the human experience is reduced to Hallmark™ cards, emails, and quaint coffee table books.
So where do we go from here?
Caught in this technological time crunch, we count and organize the minutes of our days, hoping against hope that somehow in the precious 24 hours that our day has been allotted, we will be able to cheat the old bald cheater. We believe we will be able to take some ‘time off’ to actually live. And when we finally get it, we somehow manage to categorize, organize, and reduce it to yet another schedule, another agenda. Our days ‘off’ become days away from our paid employment in order to WORK on completing the menial tasks we have procrastinated doing.
Our ‘work’ is something we accomplish, pretending to be productive so that we can accumulate enough hours to translate into dollars. Time is no longer a blessing or something to be cherished, but a calculation of how much we will be able to categorize, organize and make extravagance out of our precious ‘non-work’ time. We strive for technological gadgetry and knick-knacks to supposedly make life easier, forgetting that they are transitory, requiring maintenance and repair—even more of our precious time. The rate of exchange for our time to our dollars leaves us unsatisfied, clutching at job search engines, head hunters, and resume experts to help us find a job that pays us what we’re worth. We have forgotten that we work to live, and we now live to work.
The endless, upward-climbing mentality which spurs us onward has lost the priceless nature of the human experience. It has reduced us to tax-brackets, credit-ratings, and salaries—even more hyphens—neglecting the nature of our essence. We are reduced to Mastercard™ commercials having to remind us that a memory is worth more than any expenses it may incur.
So I ask again, where do we go from here?
Are we so spiritually impoverished that when our nation crumbles, we take out our wallets and let our money translate into consideration? It seems such an easy solution. It does not require any emotional attachment or vulnerability. We claim that since we work hard for our money it has inherent meaning. But by the time we really look at what the money really means, it has become so abstracted from the original sentiment as to lose all worth. We take home a paycheck, and out of our ordinary budgets for extravagance we send a check (a tax-write-off I might add) to an organization that funnels the money through administrative and bureaucratic channels. Finally after going through pair after pair of uncaring hands, it is translated again back into basic necessities for life—food, shelter, and clothing.
We have abstracted charity and compassion to an extension of our luxury assets. We sit in abject terror of allowing ourselves vulnerability while our government condones—even encourages—an impersonal approach. We are given benefits for being impersonal.
We wonder why our culture spawns unhealthy relationships, why our divorce rate is equal to the rate of marriages that actually work.
People are taught and conditioned to distance, disconnect, and abstract themselves from others. Internet chat rooms, phone and video conferencing. Whatever happened to shaking hands and meeting one another face to face?
In meeting people face to face, we must confront the reality of our own existence. The awkward silences must be filled with mindless drivel. Our body language betrays our thoughts and emotions in a myriad of ways that keyboards and phone lines can never communicate.
Face to Face.
The imperfections creep out, the zits on the forehead, the nervous habits, the way the hair falls across the face. Our little idiosyncrasies revealed in the full blazing light of the ‘really real world.’ And this is what makes us vulnerable.
The ‘really real world’ used to be a place where life goes on, people go about their daily business, and responsibilities were identified and met in the context of a community. But this is not the reality of existence. Daily concerns trapped in useless mendacity take place in space and time, but they do not distinguish us from the creatures in the wilderness. It is our vulnerability and our compassion, our strange willingness to let our guards down and to let others in. It’s easy to spend time with those that you care for, but how often do we invite others into our community that are not part of our normal circles? How often do we surrender what makes us comfortable for what makes us whole?
It is in our voluntary surrender that we are made strong. It is in our connection with the least of these at the cost of our precious time, our materialistic selves, that we rise above the bestial. Our discernment, our judgment, our mercy… these are unique.
We want to get hurt.
At the core of our existence dwells the desire to let our guards down and truly allow ourselves to live. Not for the potential for financial success, or fame, but for true relationship. Someone who will know us, warts, idiosyncrasies, and all, and still love us. Still be willing to take a bullet for us. Enough to stick around. We waver in terror, desperately trying to justify ourselves away from the one thing that we can cherish. The moment. The memory. The inherent possibility.
Until we begin to inundate our culture with a better awareness of how and why we ‘ought’ to act, we will be trapped in forever reprimanding ourselves for how we ‘ought not’ to act. Kant had it right. We must impress the universal consequences of actions as if every single one were to be repeated and accepted as law by every other human being. Rand had it right. We must learn to cherish each other as ends not just means. And Nietzsche had it right. We have killed God by allowing ourselves to forget his inherent rights as Ultimate Creator. We have left the divine for the mundane.
But John has it right, too.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:12,16 NIV)
We have a physicality-locality problem. We blame distance and separation for our choice to live outside of love. We make excuses. But we can change that. We can turn off the tv, the computer. We can invite someone into our lives. We can.
I don’t know about you, but I want to…
(6 May 2002, rev. 6 Jan 2011)

(Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved


  1. With getting so much written content material do you ever run into any troubles of plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a good deal of unique content material Ive either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a whole lot of it is actually popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any procedures to support prevent content from becoming ripped off? Id genuinely appreciate it.

    • I in general have the Creative Commons license, so that if I find something elsewhere, I can clearly show the date/time and originality of my work and ask them to desist or cite me. But other than that, not really. Sorry!

  2. Definitely appreciate the great website, they are certainly difficult to come by nowadays. Hope you dont mind me coming back to see what goes on later.