A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Consume unto others


One of the key components to the religious Consumerism within which we live and move and have our being is that every need/desire/impulse/urge has a corresponding product. If you have a need or desire the marketplace will rise up to fill it. If you can afford it (or get the credit!) you can have the product that meets your need, fulfills your desire, or satisfies your craving. Once the product is in hand you are free to consume. Consume, consume, consume.

It's a great system - really, it is! Works like a charm.

We recently talked about blogging unto others as you would have them blog unto you. Kind of a silly little catch phrase, but let's turn back to Jesus' words:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Luke 16:31; Matthew 7:12

I suggest that Jesus issues this Golden Rule for the purpose of forcing his hearers to consider more carefully how they treat their fellow human beings. Because we tend o be prone to self-absorbed actions and thinking, we rarely reflect on the fact that our actions affect people. Life on this small planet is reciprocal. That is, all of the things we do and say affect each other. So, for sake of creating a better living space it is important to consider my neighbor. Furthermore, one should be concerned for their neighbor simply for the fact of caring for their fellow man. This is the Golden Rule, in a nutshell.

What Jesus does not say, but what seems implied and observable from human experience is that we do, in fact, tend to treat others the way that we expect them to treat us. That people often treat each other poorly is a reflection of their own low estimation of their own selves. They rob/kill/cheat/steal/destroy/lie toward others because they expect not much less from others. This is something that seems to lie beneath the conscious mind and we rarely reflect on. We can see a mirror into our own self-perception by observing our attitudes and behaviors towards others. How we perceive others reflects on how we perceive ourselves and the rest of humanity.

So, here is the conclusion and the damning truth: Treating others as a product reveals that we perceive ourselves to be mere items for consumption.

More than often we just roll with the waves of culture and don't think about it, but from time to time reality hits us - that we are hardly any more valuable to ourselves and others than a box of cereal or a jar of pickles in the grocery store. But it is at these rare moments of truth that we have the choice and opportunity to change or to just jump back in and rejoin the rat race. In my humble opinion, it sucks to live like that - another product on the shelf of society.

Consume unto others as you would have them consume you

8 comments:

Emily said...

Replenish others as you would have them replenish you. I like the sound of this better... fitting with your thinking.

Melody said...

What Jesus does not say, but what seems implied and observable from human experience is that we do, in fact, tend to treat others the way that we expect them to treat us.

Well - Jesus does talk about how it's nothing for us to treat people well who treat us well, because everyone does that, but that we should bless those who curse us and all that. Can't find the verse - sorry.

And to me that's a little more accurate than the idea that we hold a low opinion of ourselves and so we treat others poorly.

There are some people who think pretty well of themselves who treat other people like something they scraped off their shoe.

Jonathan Erdman said...

There are some people who think pretty well of themselves who treat other people like something they scraped off their shoe.

Ok. Let's give this point some teeth: Business/Corporate guy who is self-absorbed. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get the bonuses or make the sales or get the promotion. He consumes everyone in his path. He uses people like impersonal products. They are only as good as what they can do for him. Use 'em and lose 'em. Love 'em and leave 'em.

Is it really fair, though, to say that he has a "high" opinion of himself? Someone who is completely self-absorbed is, in many ways, less human. At least, we use phrases like that. We say that someone like that is "just inhuman." They lack compassion and mercy and love. These outward-focussed qualities are some of the things that make us "more human." As such, if one is beginning to shed these outward-focussed qualities and continuing to become more and more inward and selfish, then I think they are turning themselves into a machine or a product. I wouldn't say they have a "high" view of themselves. They may be arrogant, but in my opinion "arrogance" is an attitude that exalts one's self over others. But this exaltation is always something of a detachment and disconnect from others. In this sense, then, they are less human and it would seem to me that their view of themselves is very low.

Arrogance leaves people feeling as though they have a high view of themselves, but this is a very deceptive state of mind.

Melody said...

They may be arrogant, but in my opinion "arrogance" is an attitude that exalts one's self over others. But this exaltation is always something of a detachment and disconnect from others. In this sense, then, they are less human and it would seem to me that their view of themselves is very low.

They have a high view of themselves therefore they have a low view of themselves?

If you were trying to make this idea less confusing...

Sara said...

Aw yes, enters the social worker. Said business man seems to be displaying a classic "smoke screen". Whether consciously or subconsciously it seems he might be creating this overly confident machine man to compensate for his deep feelings of inadequacy. Hmmm. Therefore, what appears to be a high perception of self in reality is very low. Thus, treating others as he views himself; with a lack of respect and dignity.

ktismatics said...

In a traditional society nobody can get away with being a jerk for long because everybody knows where you live and you will receive eye for an eye sooner or later. In a mobile society you can always change jobs, leave town, etc. -- so your social sins might never catch up to you.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Good point in the contrast of societies.

The mobile society definitely helps facilitate consumerism, relieving relational responsibility and leading to less restrictions on consumerism gone wild.

I would imagine the fact that we are now a digital and virtual society also encourages consumerism. Not only can we run from our problems (mobile), but we can disconnect pretty much entirely now. The more impersonal, the more we can consume without relational consequence.

Melody said...

In a traditional society nobody can get away with being a jerk for long because everybody knows where you live and you will receive eye for an eye sooner or later.

Oh I completely dissagree (suprise)

In a traditional society the people around you have known you for eternity and will right it off as, "Oh, that's just the way he is."

You're a part of that society and, you might be a pain in the neck, but without you there would be a void.

In a mobile society you're dispensible. So no one cares what happens to you.