Modern day philosophies
I have really enjoyed reading this blog by Jille McCormick. In particular this quote really resonated with me, which has inspired this blog post on modern day thinking, ethics and philosophy. It all sounds very intellectual and maybe you're thinking that it doesn't have anything to do with your current situation but actually just like politics, it does impact on your every day life whether you are aware of it or not.
I can be anything I want to be. I grew up in the ’80s when I was told by my school and TV shows that the sky was the limit and that I could do whatever I wanted in life!I can do anything I want to do. As a woman who entered the work force in the late 1990s and is raising children in the 2000s, I have been told that I can and should have a perfect family, imperfectly-perfect home, toned body, highly-fulfilling career, vibrant friendships, stimulating extracurricular activities, and a side business in addition to providing from-scratch meals (including birthday cakes!) and serving in at least two volunteer positions, one in leadership.
This was my mindset growing up, this was what I was led to believe as truth. The last century had broken so many boundaries, there was nothing left but to now lead a fulfilling abundant life. Really, I have it all - we should all be happy - so what went wrong? Why are so many women and men, not feeling this way?
I guess this modern way of thinking is not the truth we all thought it was, its not the truth of the modern age - we can't have it all. There are many modern philosophies that we pick up without realising it, we carry them around and take it as truth. Some of the messages are in your face and others are subliminal. For example: Freedom to pursue whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. This week on morning television, featured a woman who plans to marry her duvet because she felt this is the most intimate and trustworthy relationship she has ever had. She has even hired a wedding planner and is going 'all out' for the ceremony. We now have many different types of gender and sexuality because now it is all about how people identify rather than how they are born. Except the rules don't always follow because people who want to choose their race are publicly mocked in the media/society because that is something you are born with and can't be changed?? Even though we can change our appearances? and in the same breath, we are told not to be racist and colour of skin doesn't matter. Modern day ethics can be complicated...
An example of subliminal modern thinking; it's okay to get tens of thousands of pounds in debt (university fees) at the start of our lives because we are investing in our future careers, don't have to pay it back till we earn a certain amount and everyone else is doing it? We play games with our children - the game of life, monopoly which helps to confirm this thinking. Starting life in debt is not good. Generally living in debt, is living in bondage and not good but we are told we live in a world where we just can't avoid it - that its okay, its normal, it has to be done in order to get that the first run on the career ladder - to be successful. Just to clarify, this is not a judgement - I went to university, followed modern day ethics and got student loans to pay tuition fees and living expenses (not as high as the course fees are now but more than I had) which I have not paid back, due to the fact I have not met the earning threshold. I'm also not likely to because I had children with disabilities, which means I am now their full time carer and I had no idea this was going to happen at the time I went to university. It was what everyone did, who wanted a career, at this point in time. Unfortunately for me, it was a lousy investment because life did not work out that way. I wouldn't say it was a mistake, as it led me to where I am now. Obviously, some professions absolutely require higher education ie. doctor and you can't/shouldn't become one without it. I also have a mortgage - I grew up in the 80s where buying your home became possible for the working class and therefore the modern day thoughts became that buying your home made more financial sense than not, renting became a dirty word. Only now we live in a time where buying your first home in the UK is almost impossible unless you have family that can help you out.
There are some people who didn't follow the modern thinking and have great careers. There are those today, who refuse to get into debt and save first or study alongside working. The future will tell if our young people today will have a blase attitude to debt because it was almost expected of them and therefore not a big deal.
Whether it is how we spend our money, what we prioritise in life and how we react to others - the truths we hold in our heart, really impacts our decisions and lives. In today's culture the term 'my truth' is held high. It can't be disputed because it belongs to the person who holds the truth. The term 'my truth' is to identify your true values and live your life according to them. The 'my truth' will be different for each individual. It can involve a journey of self discovery, meditation, quizzes - In fact there are over 900 million posts on 'what is my truth' on a very simple google search. Perhaps discovering 'my truth' is not as simple as modern day thinking would have you believe...
When there are so many truths, how can we be sure what is the actual truth? In a world where its acceptable to get into debt as soon as we start out in the world, where we are encouraged to be whatever we hold as true, where celebrity culture feeds our desires, easy-come money being flaunted from reality shows, gambling, get rich schemes or compensation is advertised everywhere, we live in a time where we are expected to follow certain paths to become successful - does the real definition of truth get washed out? If truth can be anything a person believes it to be, as long as it contains the prefix 'my' - is it still truth?
This modern thinking is confusing - I'm glad there is an alternative. I think there is pain in modern ethics, we are hurting our society. Being a christian today, saying no to modern day ethics, choosing to be different to the way our culture operates can be regarded by others as being foolish and unenlightened. We can be judged by following the truth. There is an idol of 'self' that the modern day worships, although they would not regard it as that. However, the truth is still here, and it is still relevant for today. It can bring freedom from the traps of modern day thinking.
Back to the original quote - having endless choices of what we can do has some how equated to living a life where we try to do everything. These new found freedoms have become binds (traps) as we try to achieve more than ever. We were not made to be and do everything - we are not God. 'Living my best life' are popular Instagram posts. We see young, healthy, fit people doing runs, yoga, using only environmental ethical products, drinking green goo, meditating and studying, accomplishing so much all before 7am, when us mere mortals are just trying to get out of bed and they're off to some super job... I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that but is that really a best life? getting up super earlier to do all the things? to only be seen with the right stuff? Is choosing not to rest, admit we need to sleep - unproductive?
The 'productivity' idol has also come out of the modern day thinking - is this worth following alongside 'self'? We were not made to have it all and do it all. Living in this manner is not the answer, we live in a time where mental illness, depression and suicide rates are high. Modern ethics recognises this and the antidote has become self care. Would we had needed self care instructions if we did not have the idols of self and productivity in the first place?
We were made in His likeness, not made to be God. We do not need to be and do everything to be accepted. We are already accepted by Him. We do not have to earn His love, He gives it freely to us. God designed the week for us to have a rest day - we are not made to be constantly productive. Each one of us has been designed and created by God. We each have a purpose, a story and plan to live out, that will satisfy who we are meant to be. Sometimes we get caught up in everything else that the modern world offers, we don't see the plans God has for us, we don't hear His voice and we miss His direction.
We do not have to be ashamed if we mess up and get it wrong because He has already forgiven us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for all our sins, to redeem us and bring us back into relationship with God the Father. It is a free gift, and all we have to do is accept it. It's a gift we chose to accept that we cannot earn/deserve and brings us into relationship with God - this is how you become a christian - accepting the gift.
We were made to be community, not to look inwardly, but to God. By following God we live in freedom because we then know what our calling and purpose is - it allows us to say yes and no to the right things. We can collaborate with those who have different gifts and purposes. The bible is the word of God, which allows us to see and know the truth. It doesn't change, we follow a consistent unchanging truth - one standard, which is the opposite to modern day ethics. Knowing the truth allows you to set boundaries and limits but also gives you freedom and relief because you are living in the way you were created to be. So after a lengthy thought ramble, my conclusion to living a fulfilling abundant life in this modern world is to follow Jesus!