Wednesday, December 23, 2015

God is Love, Selfie Sticks Not So Much

“I’m– I’m a brand, and I am like—You’re trying to promote yourself. The brand. I’m the director of the– ‘And you’re the product.’ ‘You’re definitely trying to promote yourself.’ ‘To stay relevant, you have to—You have to work hard.’”

--Female Selfie Fan

Ben Domenech quoted the above while writing about selfie sticks. Domenech says:
In an era when the ability to capture a still life or one in motion is in your pocket at all times, people . . . do so [by putting] themselves in the foreground of existence, which inevitably means putting life behind them [see picture]. It requires you to look away from the thing you wish to capture in order to put your face in the shot, and to do so over and over and over again. No stranger would willingly stand there snapping away at you, so you need a stick to ease the challenge – it eliminates the human interaction and increases the options and angles you can use.
It’s Christmas, a time for living love, absorbing joy, looking around, and putting selfie sticks down.

As humans, we have free will. Life often seems beyond our control, and in many ways it is. Chaos theory is math, and provable. “The approximate present does not approximately determine the future.” Over time, any slight change can end up being totally disruptive--chaos.

But over our own lives, we do exercise control. And religion helps us move past the moment to address what life is really about.

When we die (and are usually buried by a religious figure), will others talk about how well we branded ourselves? Or will they think about the impact we had on others? They may be silent about our wrongs and loud about our virtues, but thoughts will run to the balance between the two.

Did love win out?

So we need religion, whether or not we know it. We can’t do it alone. We need support, we need help, and in some form we want help.

When we focus on life’s true meaning, we want faith, hope, and love, with love the greatest of the three.

Wise people figured this all out long ago, in different ways, in different parts of the world, in different cultures. But there’s a common theme. You can pass time living in the moment; you can discipline yourself to seek something higher. You can be self-centered and self-satisfied. Or you can be humble, you can listen, you can learn.

To be sure, being a loving person takes confidence. One needs the self-assurance to get past worry and fear. Also, one must move beyond linking happiness to others’ reactions -- positive or negative. Love begins with you, with one’s own confidence, and moves finally to the maturity of loving others with no expectation of love in return. It’s giving, giving freely and unconsciously.

Faith is crucial. I’m unimpressed by the prevalence of secularism in modern society. Secularism is old times. It’s so limiting to think of humans as the ultimate force for good--that’s back with human-like Greek gods, man at the center of all, back B.C.E.

Faith can’t be proven. Nevertheless, either there is meaning in love, or there isn’t. Faith believes in love and the power of love. Faith is beyond whatever humans figure out on their own. The mystery of faith itself brings peace and joy.

Of course, faith takes many forms. In secular America, one of faith’s most obvious forms is environmentalism, nature worship, Rousseau’s “noble savage,” belief in a perfect balance of natural forces disrupted by humans that must be restored. If such a faith inspires people to love other humans, what’s not to like?

I believe perfection in humans to be non-existent.  Faith helps greatly here.  My background is Christian, and the bedrock of our faith is that Jesus died for our sins, liberating us through faith from the need for perfection, freeing us instead to embrace faith, hope, and love.  Thank God.

Life’s basic truth is that we are born, we live, we die.  Hope is vital to getting us past death.  I am an imperfect human, severely limited in my ability to see beyond the grave.  Hope means being positive about the future; to me, understanding that love conquers death by living on in those we love.

Basic to love is understanding we control only ourselves.  Love is liberating, love is never controlling others.  Love accepts others as they are, taking joy in their fulfilling independence, even if realized through a selfie stick.  And love is patient, kind, never insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, aiming for joy.

Faith + hope + love = happiness today and forever.

Merry Christmas!

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