The Thoughtless Wanderer
It’s amazing to me how people talk about being brave and taking a risk by journeying through unknowns in life and yet when in the midst of that journey you speak of your process, it is so often counseled to be cautious and/or to return back to familiarity. The truth is, people are afraid of the unknown because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of doing the wrong thing because in our culture we are taught that there is a right way and a wrong way and if you choose the wrong way, you are going to hell. I’m not just talking about religion. I’m talking about decision making as a whole. We are a paralyzed society that has been scared into believing it is better to listen to someone else’s belief or opinion about our life because following the crowd is the safest way to know you’re on the right path.
There’s a verse in the Bible in Isaiah 53 that says “We all like sheep have gone astray”. Again, I’m not simply talking about religion. Im using this verse as an example or a frame of reference to make my point clear. Do you know what sheep do? They all get in a group, look at each other’s butt’s and hope the sheep in front are going the right way. They don’t think for themselves. They don’t stop and say “now, wait a minute….the way out of this place looks like it’s over there….but we’re going a different direction”. There is a very real and very scary truth to that verse that applies to our society and culture as a whole. I have become so aware over the past two years or so how few people in our society actually think for themselves. It is a rarity to have a conversation with someone that is not actually afraid to ask questions, seek answers and find out for themselves what they were seeking. It is so prevalent the amount of people that simply listen to an inspirational speaker, the media, a pastor, a mentor etc. for the answers to their problems instead of simply turning inward and using the mind and internal compass(intuition) that we were designed with.
Example: I grew up in the church. From the time I can remember, I went to church and was part of a faithful, church-going family. Having been raised in that culture, one of the things that we were taught as a widely accepted belief system is that self love is equal to selfishness and pride. It is wrong to love yourself because “the bible says” we are to love our neighbor above ourself. I remember a few years ago as I started thinking about that and became aware that something inside didn’t sit right with that, especially as I started seeing incongruence in the way people were living. It began to occur to me how unhealthy that belief system is. I remember thinking “does anyone realize how that belief is killing us?? Does anyone else understand that love is something we must give ourselves in order to give it to other people? We can’t give what we don’t have…”. It was even more startling to me how profound that thought was as I began to share it with those around me, as if I’d stumbled upon hidden treasure. Until I wen’t to the very epicenter of christian theology, the Bible, and found that the main verse used for that belief system didn’t even say what was being accepted as truth. It’s found in the book of Mark 12:31. Jesus was asked what God’s greatest values/commandments were and he responded with this(in part):
“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Do you notice the part that says “as yourself”? If you subscribe to christian beliefs, why, when you read the bible, is self love a topic and lifestyle that is so seldom accepted, talked about and lived out and yet it states very clearly that it is imperative that you love your neighbor as you love yourself? I would like to propose that it is because we as a people, inside and outside christian culture don’t think for ourselves. Somewhere along the way, someone became afraid of failure and saw that pride was something that equaled that and through a lens of fear, interpreted that verse in the wrong way, spoke it out and over time became a belief system inside a lot of people. It’s no wonder why(in my personal opinion) so many christians struggle with insecurity, fear, self pity and false humility.
Going back to my original thought, we must learn to face the fear of failure, the fear of being wrong, the fear of making a mistake and be willing think for ourselves. To ask questions, research and think outside the proverbial box. To overcome and sometimes walk through that which we don’t yet know, trusting that we will be ok on the other side and that in the end at least we tried.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.