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Thursday, September 13, 2012

On the verb "to be" --

Hey, Coffee Lovers.

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged, and I've missed it quite a lot. Trying to find a way to balance my time has been more than a little bit challenging lately, but I think I'm getting the hang of it again. I hope, anyway.

Tonight I want to write about mindsets. When we hear that word, typically we think of things like success -- those concepts which we know are dependent upon the way in which we approach our lives. But there are other mindsets, which are both more deeply ingrained and harder to notice, that we overlook on the daily.

I think the primary mindset I see in those around me, when I really look closely, is inferiority. It isn't an inferiority complex, nor is it simple insecurity. It is, rather, a mode of being, a habit of existing -- if you will. Many of the people that I love have bought into  a belief that their selves are lesser. It is not the things that they do, not the ways that they think, not the feelings that they feel, but, rather, the deeply rooted self, the essence of them, which becomes lesser in their own minds and hearts.

Lesser than what though? Isn't that the question which logically follows? What I find so disturbing about this lesser-as-a-way-of-being mindset is that it indicates there is something above, but I have yet to find nor yet to hear of anything to which we are actually subjugating our sense of self. We simply self-subjugate, believing in the absence of all evidence, that there is something better than we out there.

At this point you either agree with me and see the terror of this, or you disagree, in which case: oh well.  But if you do agree, if you do, in fact, see and feel this mode of inferiority as a pervasive and destructive element in our culture, you, like me, must wonder where it stems from. The typical answers don't satisfy me. I don't think it comes from the media. I don't think it comes from hormones. I don't think it comes from Twitter or Facebook.

Rather, it seems to me that this mode of inferiority is being belched forth from the empty space in our culture. Human beings are seekers of value; they attach values to everything they do, whether they are aware of it or not. That is actually one of the reasons I created this blog three years ago: to document my search for value around me. And I have found so many things of worth! People, events, places, times, memories, pieces of art -- all of it has something to share and express which touches on the depth of which we are capable. But these things, these beautiful, everyday things, are not celebrated for what they are in mainstream America. What is beautiful is celebrated not for its beauty, but for the use that beauty presents. And this is where we get such a distorted view of beauty (see the post entitled "the ugly beauty" for more on that). But it reaches deeper than just beauty. It reaches into all layers of our everyday lives and interactions. We are walking about color blind, and no one has ever told us how vibrant red is.

And I believe it is from this lack of value, or, rather, lack of sight, that we arrive at such a deeply ingrained sense of our own inferiority. It is illogical, because there is nothing to which we are inferior. We cannot name it. We try to explain and medicate it away, but it does not work. People, young and old, weather their lives until they can't take them anymore. And then most continue to weather anyway.

So what's the solution? Well, I think there are a few. The first comes in realizing we are no better or worse than we are. It is a simple matter of fact. I don't typically like biblical references, but I think one is particularly applicable here. When asked His name by Moses in the Old Testament, God could give no better answer than YHWH, meaning "I am." Now, if God exists I imagine He can be as cryptic as He damn well pleases (though Moses could have at least requested a social security number). But that 5000 year old idea has significance for each of us, regardless of our religious beliefs. The ancient conception of God is that He stands as the root of all being. To ask God to define himself requires God to define all that is. And, rather than dilute what ALL is, He simply offers its existence as proof of its divinity.

Why don't we simply offer our existence as proof of our value? It is the same idea. I am. And nothing more. It is a scary thing, to claim yourself in all of your imperfection as the only thing to which you can lay claim. We don't want to do it; we want to throw layer upon layer of excuse and pretention atop our brokenness to make it appear whole and beautiful. But this is inferiority; this is self-subjugation.

The second way to beat back this culture of inferiority is simply to recognize that there is no superior. The media, the government, the social network, the supermodels, the actors, the writers -- they all are. And nothing more. Everyone is on a level playing field in this beautiful mess that we call Earth.

Arising from this equality of beings comes a profound love. If everyone is, and I am, then we are. And that, while simple, gives me peace.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
--michael