There goes an old saying:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
I have been thinking about some things. In these ventures of thought, I am often brought down many sub-atomic rabbit holes of deeply intertwined concepts and questions – where sometimes I wonder if thinking about them is worth it. Even so, I do usually. I have always been like that. I love thinking about deep things, even problematic ones – and seeing if I can find and learn anything useful from them.
I think often about the state of man and our often untapped potential. The factors that can help bring out the best in us are reproducible (I feel), and they are not that hard to implement. And yet, these factors that can bring out our best are often twisted and maligned to bring our best to the benefit of one or a few, and bring out our worst as a side effect.
People want to feel free, accepted, and belonging to a group. There is a type of psychological safety in being “in” with one (even when it does dangerous things – such as SWAT, Navy Seals, The Armed Forces, etc). There is a type of calm and security when you know that some have your back, and in turn you have theirs. Knowing you have people in your corner can also enable you to excel in difficult circumstances.
People are more inclined to be expressive of their uniqueness when their peers help them feel comfortable about themselves. Funny… conformance to one set of socially accepted norms helps bring the dis-congruent, yet non-harmful elements of our personalities to the surface, thus allowing our unique traits to show more openly. Due in part to this realization… I feel being independent and divorced from society and others isn’t the best way to find “yourself”.
To me, the constant messages of:
Independence from others
The “you do you apart from all others”
And finally, “then you will find your success and inner divinity”
Are what I feel describes the “Enemy”. It is a very powerful one, as it creeps forth subtly from some dysfunctional social norms, and as it stands to cast its dark shadow of doom upon us if we don’t follow it.
Groups that use the “enemy” are the ones where they say you must listen — all or nothing — to their directorates, and rules. They are totalitarian hierarchies that seek the disenfranchised from whatever rank of society that they can pull them from; in so that, they may have numbers for their cause, or for their pockets.
I feel that some of the largest networks used by the “Enemy” are social media platforms. They may not be setup this way on purpose, for technology doesn’t cause problems in people in as much as it amplifies problems that already exist with us. To me though – there is little doubt that there is a peer pressure dynamic in these platforms that brings about a sense of inner guilt when we don’t have lives like our idols do. Even if we don’t consciously idolize people… when their beauty or fame/wealth is extolled, we feel beneath them at least in some sense. Since we see what is in fact rare in them, and it is portrayed to be common – we then feel guilty that we not like them, perhaps more often than we would like to admit.
We make them the idols of our ideals, and systems of belief. We allow the mental models of our idealistic deities to stand before us, and within us, fiercely shed guilt and blood on our hearts; whereas in reality the people we idolize would rarely dream of causing us such pain. (I’m only speaking about how we model the world, and how we think the world thinks about us when we don’t match up to it as we conceive it to be.)
This is the “Enemy”. This way of thinking. The “I must be like [insert name here] in order to be worth something!” marks it out for what is it. It must be vanquished from our hearts. It must be seen for what it is. An isolating scheme, a separating separatist that promises deliverance from the pain of loneliness, and self-isolation. When in fact, it is what causes us to self-impose unnecessary exile upon ourselves. Worded in a phrase – we make the idols we adore say to us “we are better than you.”
They are people like you. The groups we hold in esteem are made of people like you. Maybe they are even more flawed together than you are by yourself. As wisdom can be found and multiplied by many wise beings, so to can foolishness be cast far by many fools.
Why do we allow our image of an idol we adore to say terrible things to our hearts? It offloads the guilt and the shame onto something else. Instead of taking responsibility for what we think about ourselves – it is easier to just put it on idols of our imaginations, and make it their problem. We would have to change otherwise. And that scares the hell out of many.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way out. It isn’t an event; rather, it is a process. It’s not comfortable, but it is freeing. It will take all of your life. And for me… that’s fine. Better that level of dedication than leaving the fabric of peace to cosmic nihilism.
Be aware of the Enemy. It isn’t mindlessly conforming to the newest thing, or fade. The Enemy is thinking others are automatically better and more worthy than you, and then thinking you are hopeless to rise up, and be great. You are just as worthy to have a happy life as anyone else. You are just as worthy of being content as anyone else. While you may need to improve on your heart on somethings, or many things – you are worthy.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.1 Peter 1:18-19, NIV
I pray that you fight the Enemy of devaluing yourself and that you win. I pray that you know that you are precious in the sight of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, their faithful angels, and the Saints that have lived before you. All in unison saying, “you are born of Spirit, and life. In Christ you forever more you shall be, and are – a conqueror.” You always have been, even before you were born. That’s the way Jesus is… Good.