Friday, April 30, 2010

An Image to Hide Behind

The latest Adbusters article addresses the question: "What is the happiness that has alluded our generation?" Here's part of the response:
Unlike people of my generation who are increasingly defined by their possessions, my grandfather never owned much. But he never complained about not having because he was too busy being. Perhaps I’m unhappy because my concerns are reversed – I’m too worried about having to focus on being. Human fulfillment is no longer equated with what I am, but with what I possess. [Guy] Debord says this is the second stage of modernization, “in which social life becomes so completely dominated by accumulated products that it causes a shift from having to appearing, wherein all ‘having’ must now derive its immediate prestige from appearances.” So all I need to do to fit modern society is to appear to be a possessor of a lot of stuff, but in reality I will be and have nothing. I need a personal image. Perhaps this is the visible sign of happiness Baudrillard was talking about. I have to create an image to hide behind, and this image seems to be the only thing I’m able to produce. Have I really been reduced to an image whose sole purpose is to mix and mingle with other seemingly compatible images? Is modern life really so complex?
Part of the author's answer to this question (found later in the article) is to be unique. In a sense, I completely agree with this. As a friend always reminds me, God has made us human beings not human doings. God desires us to first just be who we are. We were uniquely created to be a part of the larger story going on around us. We should stop trying to be like everyone else, desiring possessions to impress everyone else, and seek to live out of the unique expression of Christ in us.

Instead of hiding behind a self-made, propped up image of ourselves, we should remember this truth:
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." - 2 Cor. 3:18

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