Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Defining Life By Your Causes

You can gain a great degree of insight into how a person approaches life and defines what constitutes “living,” by the predominate metaphors he uses regarding life.

From my book, Legendary Leadership:

Complete this sentence stem: “Life is like …”

For Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Life is a series of surprises.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”  Life is service.

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Life is an adventure.

[….] Each belief creates a particular kind and quality of life. 

Which brings me to this question: What happens to people whose predominate metaphor is, “Life is a War”? Well, to begin with all of life is framed, thusly: Us v Them, Good Guys v Bad guys, Winning v Losing. Individuals whose overarching metaphor for life is War for a Cause approaches relationships, church, business, society, the political arena, and everything else, as a warrior. Consequently …

Homes become boot camps

Churches are gatherings of Navy Seals for Jesus

Education is where I am provided weapons and ammo with which to destroy the enemy

Art is propaganda

The Political Arena is where we “take no prisoners”

In Business, we destroy competitors

Recreation is “resting up so I can get back out there and crush the enemy.”

And all the people in my world are sized up, measured, evaluated, and judged, by the standard of my (present) Cause, be it religious, political, or societal.

“Come on, Wilson, join us and make your life count for something.”  

If you aren’t joining their Cause, if you aren’t with “us” fighting against “them,” then your life counts for nothing … and you’re probably one of “them.” Such people are often clueless as to how in the world St Paul could write, “Mind your own business, lead a quiet life, and work with your hands, so as to not stand in need of charity.”

“Man. I guess even Paul could be a slacker.”

Ah, there’s nothing like a Great Cause to make us feel that we are doing Something Important, as it defines and imbues us with feelings of significance and meaningfulness. Now, think about that for a moment. Does this mean that people whom choose to not join our cause are insignificant and meaningless? Is my sense of self and even my worth as a human being derived from my fighting for a Cause? And tell me, if my Cause goes down in smoke, who am I now? What do I do now, so as to regain my sense of worth?

Is it any wonder that so many of these people run around picking fights, creating enemies where there are none? They are worthless, or at least lack meaningfulness and a sense of significance, unless they’re bludgeoning an enemy.

When your dominant metaphor for life is War, tell me this:

Do you ever enjoy a night out with friends, where you simply enjoy the presence of others, or do conversations invariably turn to the battles, the Cause, the burning issues of the day (to you)?

Do you have any friends who aren’t fellow combatants, or potential converts to the Cause?

Can you sit and watch a sunset, being overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of creation, with a still mind and soul, or does your brain start tracking the progress of the Cause, the players and combatants, and the next move against The Enemy?

Do you only read books that are directly related to your Cause? How long has it been since you dove into a book solely to lose yourself and be inspired by a great story?

Newsflash Battles for Causes are events that we may engage in, while we are living life: they are not Life, not “what life is all about.” If we choose to define our selves in terms of our battles, then the potential for living and experiencing life as God intended actually diminishes to the point where the human inside the armor disintegrates and disappears. If this is you, I’m thinking you may want to take off the armor and tend to your self. It’s okay. Really. It’s not like God is helpless without your being on the battlefield.

Copyright, Monte Wilson, 2105

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