(Picture: Patrick Hoesley via Creative Commons)
“What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?” – Jor-El, Man of Steel
Who really has power? We live in a world where we think we are empowered, we think we have freedom, we are sold the story that we make our own decisions of our own free will.
George Orwell’s “1984” prophesied a world where everything was controlled, where you lived the life you were told to, media was controlled by people with power. And there is the above quote “War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength”
Just think on our culture a moment. Peace is achieved through war. Much of western freedom comes at the expense of the 26 million slaves in the world, and historically, came through slaves. And our culture’s apathy to it all allows it to continue – our ignorance is their strength.
We think we are free. But are we?
There are voices all around us all the time, subtly telling us what life is about, what values are important, what freedom is, what we’re entitled to. And the cunning way these stories are told to us makes us believe these are our choices.
But are they really ‘our’ choices?
Research conducted several years ago showed the average American is exposed to 3000 messages a day – from advertising online, TV, billboards, buses, radio, newspapers, magazines and other sources. These voices all tell them what life is about, what a meaningful life entails, what freedom is, what constitutes good looking, where our value should come from, what is a successful life, and what is “normal”.
Now I’m a Christian. I try to have my eyes open to these messages, and choose to ignore them. I try to listen to the voices I believe are important, the ones whose values I agree with, based on my decision to follow Jesus and live by His values. Though even those messages have been fed to me somehow.
The difference is I’ve made a conscious decision to agree to a different set of values. I believe in unconditional love, grace, mercy, justice, non-violence and in us recognising there are consequences to our actions. I try to have my eyes open to the reality of what’s happening in the world.
But no story in our culture – and especially not God’s story – has only one way of telling it.
Living God’s story for us means being us.
Daring to be ourselves, and not anyone else. Knowing we don’t have to conform to any story this world tells us, but can live the way we were uniquely designed to live, and whatever happens, be loved and accepted as we are, wherever we are, whatever we’ve done. If our identity lies in the divine, we are freed to be uniquely ourselves – and in so doing we embrace a set of values, yes. But the way we live these out, the specific story we tell, is ours and ours alone.
But ironically we don’t do this alone. We do it in community. Right from the smallest sub-atomic organism, life exists in relationships. We flourish and fly only when in community with others. But at once, we should never be constrained by that community from living our own specific, unique story.
Dare to be you.
Because the people with the real power are so powerful we don’t even know their names. They themselves have become lost in their own stories and begun to believe them. It is less a deception of us, more self-deception manifesting itself and spreading. The lie has become so powerful we’ve all become lost in it.
Has “1984” happened but we’re all completely blind to it?
In “1984” everyone lives by the same story. Is that really any different from consumer culture? (you can tweet that here)
It deceives us into thinking we make our own choices and aren’t uniform at all, but at once subtly tells us what choices to make. We’re being told what to live by someone, whose message has become so powerful they’ve become lost in it themselves. Yes, there is ‘individuality’, but even that is defined by culture.
And we’re all living the consumer story. Even I am at times. I support the consumer, secular concept of normal. And most of the time it’s caused me anxiety, stress and pain.
But there is a different story. A different model for life. It’s one I’ve spoken of before
A body. All working together, doing our own unique jobs, living our own unique stories, but doing it in community. For a common cause. The cause of the other. And making a new creation right here in the middle of the old one. Stepping back and seeing the lies we live by. And choosing to be authentically different. Uniquely ourselves.
Forget the myth of normal. Stop conforming to the pattern of the world. Dare to live a greater story than the one society intended.
Dare to be you.
Do you agree or disagree with me? Why?
Whose story for your life are you living?
Are you willing to live a different story?
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