Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who are we really?

Going to take a departure from pottery and mushy love dedications today, and discuss something that really gets my brain going in circles - character misrepresentation, and how we live in a world that seems to thrive on it.

I mean, think about all the "beautiful" people out there paraded through advertising and entertainment and how little of that is the real story. And what about the way we try to appear poised and competent in our public lives but go home and feel like we're coming apart at the seams? So much of our society is built upon partial truths and misinformation.

I was reading Jeremiah this morning, chapter 2, verse 33 and a particular phrase really stuck with me:

"Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love?"

Don't we all do that? Think about the way girls are trained to augment their natural beauty at an increasingly younger age. And how many times have television programs been centered on unnatural surgical procedures or makeovers? They all seem to have one central message, "You weren't good enough the way you came, so it's okay for you to do whatever it takes to fix the problem." And what if the problem isn't with the way we look, dress, or behave, but lies in our society's perception of the ideal?

Where I work I have to deal with glamour and gossip magazines on a regular basis. It always bothers me to see so much made of a celebrity's suddenly changed hairstyle, who they went to the theater with, what their ex-nanny said, their sexual orientation bombshell, and so on. None of these things solve any real problems in the world. Children still die of disease and hunger in much of the world. Women, men and their offspring still do unspeakable things to each other within their own homes with the rest of us none the wiser. Why on earth are we still deifying the pettiness of manufactured news and popularity? It seems to be just more of that same fixation we have with garnering approval in any way we can. It's why we put braces on our children's teeth, dye our hair, spend more than we should on Christmas gifts for people that don't matter, dress in clothing that doesn't fit right or make us feel comfortable, pierce, tatoo, nip and tuck, buy houses we can't afford, fill our homes with things that have no purpose beyond acquistion, and the list could last for days....

Our society teaches us to have unrealistic expectations a lot of the time. We come to believe that if we just have that kind of hair, those kinds of clothes, a newer car, a bigger house, that somehow our lives will be so much better. And I'm just as guilty as the rest of the world, too. I have too many bottles of nail polish for toes that only see sunshine for 6 months of the year. And I have to go through my closets and drawers a couple of times a year to discard the items I thought I needed but somehow don't seem to wear. And I catch myself coveting a larger, warmer house often enough that I felt more than a twinge of remorse when I read those words this morning.

How do we fix it? Same way we fix everything in this mortal existence. Fix our focus on the only individual capable of directing us with impunity and actually let Him do it without butting in. Because we all know how much we bristle when someone else tells us what to do, right?

Now, I'm not advocating tossing out all the cosmetics or wearing homespun. But I do think I personally need to re-evaluate what I'm spending my time and attention on as I seek a sense of validation in my existence. Keeping up appearances can be a dangerous road if no one's really driving the car.

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