A few weeks ago I posted a preview to this topic, that I would be writing an entry on whether we are better now as people in 2017 than in times past. I do not like to force things when I write but in light of the madness that occurred in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend here is my opinion:
No, as people we aren’t better. We are many things, but not better.
First, let’s define better. Better is, as defined by me, something tangible that proves a thing is of a higher quality than others things like it. Better is measurable and best established by observing events over time. Better is something proven and that usually through conflict and/or adversity. Words like triumph and victory are associated with better. But better when separated from values and morals is dangerous and is where we find ourselves as people now.
Capitalism is a lot of times greed disguised as the pursuit of a better life. Better homes, cars, clothes, food, insurance and heslthcare equate a high quality of living. Nothing wrong with wanting the relatively short time we have here in this life to be enjoyable…at least not when it comes at the cost of others. That cost perpetuates separation rather than unity, promotes classes and creates a divide between people called superior and inferior. People who were created in the same way and birthed in the same way and have the same basic wants and needs cannot be “superior” or “inferior” relative to what actually makes them human. I am just as human eating a hot dog or eating caviar.
What people consider to be better are the themes that are championed- the superficial is very exciting but very temporary.
In church the lure is blessings now! God is going to bless you. Usually means with stuff as if advancement in God is in any way indicated by materials. We even want to sound spiritual and cry out for more anointing (God’s purpose based blessing of ability, influence and talent) for what???
Like bigger churches, bigger crowds, bigger offerings, bigger influence. Politics we want bigger policies and bigger rally and bigger offices and bigger rallies for more control and more power. Sports we want bigger stronger faster athletes. Military we want bigger bombs , bigger guns, bigger boats. Education we want bigger graduating classes. Bigger tv, bigger phones, bigger cars, bigger houses and property.
More bigger big stuff.
What about better?
Where has the pursuit of better gone? Better is to take less and do more. To take small things and do great exploits. Small seeds producing large harvests.
Better is on the other side of process. It’s the opposite shore from where you are standing with the unpredictable, untamable, humbling river of life that will take you and your dreams under its surface if you don’t enter in prepared with right mindset. Under the surface is compromise. Dreams require air and visions require light, both are absent if you go deep enough, long enough underwater. The compromise is when better is asphyxiated into simply being and believing that is the same as being bigger.
The lie we tell is that bigger is better. Better is bigger because it has both breadth and depth whereas bigger can be hollow while appearing otherwise. The difference is better comes from the heart whereas bigger is from the mind.
Why does food made with love taste bigg….wait no……better?
Why does live music sound bi…..uhhh……better?
Why does the touch of a loved one feel big….better?
Why do handmade things, even with imperfections seem to last and we seem to take big…. no…wait…better care of them?
Bigger is the internet, the knowledge and connection with the things and knowledge of this world in your hands but people are more ignorant and disconnected than ever. My students cannot even hold a conversation and grown adults forgot that they did not grow up with cell phones and texting. Bigger has us numb and paralyzed by information overload. Better is always in motion and never complacent.
I had the opportunity to go to Egypt. Dream of mine. I have seen it on the Internet and TV countless times. The pyramids in person on a camel.
Better. No comparison.
Even though as a New Yorker I know first hand that the skyscrapers dwarf even the Great Pyramids. But what has stood for thousands of years, built by hand over decades is so much better because even though they were purposed as tombs they resonate life from the sweat of Ancient Egyptians that soaked into the sandstone as they worked with their hands. This can be felt across time. Better.
Bigger and better can coincide when bigger is made to bow down to purpose, compassion, love and humility. I believe that we all sin, meaning we fall short in our actions and thoughts in front of God’s will. No one is perfect. I also believe that our falling short was vindicated by the destruction of the power and consequences of sin by Jesus. We are no longer doomed in the next life and can experience a taste of that in this life. He did this on a cross while swollen, bleeding, bruised and completely naked. He was at his weakest, at His lowest and at His smallest. But He was also at His best, doing exactly what He was called to do and doing it with His heart….only a few billion people benefitted from that. That’s pretty big and we are all better for it. If we had His heart tied to our purpose from God we too can do both.
So are we bigger? Yes absolutely. Are we better? Stay tuned.