Location: Ireland

Monday, August 11, 2008

1 : 6,716,117,644

Well the Olympics have gotten underway and maybe it's just the cynic in me or the old age but they don't hold the same allure that they once did for me. I still pop in and out as I'm having my dinner or whatever but I can take them or leave them. It's interesting though to think about how the Olympics and other such pursuits affect us psychologically and as the population increases, are more and more of us giving ourselves over to mediocrity? Now I'm no expert in the study of population but as far as I can gather, the number of humans on the planet is increasing and has been doing so since the time when there were no humans. I've no idea whether it's going to plateau anytime soon but one thing is clear, as individuals, we are becoming less and less of a novelty in our world...less and less unique if you will.

I wonder how that affects us psychologically...Surely when Adam and Eve were wandering around the planet, after the fall, one of the things that must have popped into their heads was how special they were, how they were the only ones of their kind on the planet, how everything revolved around them (figuratively speaking of course!) proud they must have felt. And now the best we can do, because there are 6,716,117,644 people on the planet and counting, to feel unique and special is to excel, to rise above the masses and be noticed. The problem is that, mathematically speaking, the more people there are, the more difficult it is to rise. Of course, it's easy to rise to the same height or level of achievement (this can be clearly seen as world records are broken) but relatively speaking, this is much lower as more and more people 'excel' and also, and this is my point, as more and more people exist.

One may look at it like this: Just say for example we put twenty people in a straight line along an over-sized, novelty x-axis and each person stands an arbitrary unit apart. Now if we label the y-axis as being 'achievement' or 'level of excellence' and one of those people rises five units along the y-axis, it is quite an obvious peak and if it were drawn, it would be clear for all to see and admire, thus affording the person fame, fortune and all the other 'f' words they care for.

However, if we put 6 billion people along the x-axis and one of those rises 20 units along the y-axis of excellence, it is theoretically and virtually negligible as any mathematician worth their salt (and most who aren't worth any salt) will tell you. So what does that feel like oh excellent one? To have done all you can to achieve excellence and still not be able to able to break through the meniscus of mediocrity?
I'm sure it can't be pleasant. Whether or not you put it down to our innate pride or our desire to excel, both of these take a hit as we become more and more we become more and more we become more and more more and more procreation means we become more and more linear.

It was only this Saturday in one of the weekend sections of a paper that a columnist was bemoaning the fact that he was getting bored with music...that as he approached music as an à la carte consumer, picking and choosing which tracks he wanted, he realised that it was becoming dull to him and so on. Again, I'm no music historian but we are surely reaching a (if not the) saturation point when it comes to music, not to mention film and, though I admit to irresponsible extrapolation, every other major artistic discipline. To take the music business as an example, long before apple started bobbing for customers, generally speaking, mainstream music was becoming more and more well...mainstream. And as more and more of the supplementary streams were engulfed, torn to bits and left high and dry by the mainstream, excellence and individuals' uniqueness were out the proverbial window.

So what is one to do, musician or otherwise? If we are hardwired to be unique and to be 'excellers' and to do great things with the world around us, how can we possibly function when we are (as I'm guessing anybody who's reading this is) average Joe or Mary Soaps? Well I think the answer lies in God... We are not necessarily going to be the most excellent person in the world at what we do if we focus on God. However, we will become closer and closer to what he made us to be and so, though through the eyes of the world we are possibly even further away from breaking through the average, in God's eyes, we are excelling. We are becoming all that He created us to be. Though this may sound airy fairy to some or it may sound strange to others, I wonder isn't that precisely what Jesus meant when He said "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses His life for my sake will find it." It is when our focus is so much on the Lord Jesus Christ, on God, that we truly lose our lives, we forget ourselves, we forget our pride and our selfish ambitions. And yet the funny thing is, it's when we focus on God (and it is true that that which you focus on, you become like) that we truly find our life because we become more godly, more resembling His image and likeness. It is a beautiful thing when something that was created fulfills its purpose. I think often we only realise how beautiful it is when it stops working (as anyone who has encountered the blue-screen of death or has had a puncture will tell you). Let us all wake up and realise that God created us with a purpose and that purpose is to bring glory to Him. He created us to find our whole purpose for existence in Him. Let us seek to be as observant with the spiritual aspect of our lives as we are with the puncture. Let us look at it and realise that it is in need of repair. Let us stop denying that which is staring us blankly in the face. We were made for God...We find our meaning and our purpose in God...It is only by centering our lives on God that we will start to live...It is when we do this and we accept that we need to be reconciled to God; that we need to repent of all the wrong that we have done in our lives, not so as to earn our way into His good books but out of thankfulness and admittance that the Lord Jesus Christ has done it all on our behalf and all we need to do is accept that by faith.

Let me draw this to some kind of (hopefully) concise closure. Nowadays, if we are to rise above mundane mediocrity, we have to climb so high up the y-axis of excellent that it's either humanly impossible to get there or humanly impossible to stay there. When we look to the living God, we see the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son who enables us to rise. The mind-boggling thing is though that instead of expecting us to climb up to Him, He comes down to us. God becomes man...He humbles Himself to that extent. And it is when we look to this God-man, who humbled Himself that we become more like Him...we humble ourselves (for what other response could we have)...we accept that He has done it all...and it is then, that we find is then that we realise it isn't the bland linear x-axis that is the problem, it's that all the while, we have been looking side-on at a great masterpiece...and as it is slowly turned upright, the colours, the faces, the landscapes, the past, present and future of this Masterwork begin to become clear and we sing "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord for He is great, I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

And slowly the '1' in the title of this post becomes less and less 'me' and more and more 'God'...


Blogger Greymalkin1 said...

I enjoyed this post,its got interesting thoughts! A few commments:

1.How do you judge mediocrity?

Also you said:'So what does that feel like oh excellent one? To have done all you can to achieve excellence and still not be able to able to break through the meniscus of mediocrity?'

I see what your saying,but wouldn't tiger woods, kaka, pele, radiohead etc. have clearly broke through this mediocrity?especially if tiger woods is only really against 1,000 or so people in the world,not 6 billion?

I ask what the difference between these two pictures is also?

If one is focused on God and the othe rone isn't (hypothetically), what are the differences here, both top class players?

10:52 p.m.  
Blogger sharath said...

I suppose my theory was that the judge of mediocrity will be that unless we have an external reference point, everything becomes mediocre due to the ever-growing numbers of humans on the planet. Although I concede that the nature of the achievement is probably not directly related to the number of humans on the planet (e.g. Tiger's talent doesn't shine any less brightly because there are so many people on the planet). However, on a purely psychological basis, the fact that we are becoming less and less unique surely affects the way we view ourselves (if we see our self-worth or identity as being found in how great we are!) I also concede that I may have shot the argument in the foot by expanding it to include talents etc.

I suppose my thoughts started at a much more simple level and maybe shouldn't have expanded to include peoples/talents or achievements. So maybe to bring it back to that basic level: as humans, there is a certain attraction to the unique that is inbuilt within us...from the kid on the playground with the new runners that noone else has to the mega-rich rock star with the personalised Bugatti Veyron. So how does the fact that we are becoming less and less 'unique' affect us psychologically? Well it seems that people seem to proclaim their 'uniqueness' by acquiring things that are unusual or nobody else has, whether they be cars or books or even acquiring arguments for intellectual uniqueness. But if those are the only things that define our individuality and those things ultimately all fade away for one reason or another, where does that leave our uniqueness and therefore, where does it leave our need to be unique?
And so, because inevitably we are becoming less and less unique and those things which we use to project uniqueness onto ourselves (e.g. our choice in music etc.) are becoming more and more bland (through either homogeneity or ingenuity to the extent that because everything is different, it's the same) and less unique themselves, where does that leave us?

Although it could be argued that the awesome displays of athletic ability at the Olympics (e.g. Phelps, Bolt) could be shown to ruin my theory, I wonder do they bolster it as we all admire the athletes 'uniqueness'?

I wonder is the difference between your two pictures that one of them knows who he is where as the other one doesn't...

4:53 p.m.  
Anonymous greymalkin1 said...

I like the idea of an external reference point: the outside perspective is not linked or controlled by these things and can focus/refocus our identity? Bot that all people are looking for identity but they usually get caught up in it, whether from thgemselves or others applying it.

Coupled with that, you mentioned that people try to proclaim identity in their uniqueness and the evident problems with that. What makes some people take it to Christianity? I know things have been mentioned about losing your life etc. but could it be said that Christianity isn't unique because it's old?And that SO many people choose it? And why would people want to choose soemthing that doesn't change over something that they could constantly change?

12:26 a.m.  
Blogger sharath said...

I suppose the answer I would give to your questions is that from many perspectives, Christianity isn't unique at all in that it seems to be some kind of organised religion. I suppose it's the claims of Christianity and more specifically, the person who made them claims(Jesus).
And I suppose when one truly becomes a Christian, it's not so much that you are suddenly unique, it's that it doesn't bother you so much that you're not unique because you are so content in the unique, one and only true God that you are focused on. And for that and other reasons, you love when other people become followers of Jesus.
I like your last question of why would people choose something that doesn't change over something that does. I wonder does that come back to our wanting to be in control, wanting to be God? I suppose one way that people sometimes come to the point where the wonder if there's a God is when they realise that they're certainly not in control of their lives and so it's a toss-up between someone else being in control or just pure luck. It'd be an interesting survey question: If you had to rank the following four options from most preferred to least preferred...

A)absolutely in control of your life
B)another human being absolutely in control of your life
C)pure chance
D)God being absolutely in control

12:24 p.m.  

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