who am i?

I notice myself being drawn to that question – particularly in lyrics and music. The question raises serious naval-staring moments. I’m really nobody; nothing important; dust or vapor in the wind; a shadow before sunrise.

What makes me so important to others? I’m not special or particularly good looking. If there was anti-charisma, you’d certainly attribute that to my character. I’m not being humble here, just honest. So why would anyone find me special?

I think Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated it well in “The Little Prince”

“Anything essential is invisible to the eyes…. It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important…. People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said, “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose….”

I suppose I’m a little wild, like the fox or the rose and people who have personally spent time chipping away at that to tame me has also acquired a special sense of responsibility and uniqueness for me.

There’s a proverb that states “Where your treasure is, your heart is also.” The more we work at something, the more of our personal selves are put into it and the more it’s treasured. It’s what we choose to treasure that alters the world around us and changes other people – and not necessarily because they’ve changed, but more because of a change in our perception.

Thoreau Was Wrong

One of the famous signature quotes from Thoreau is “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” However, he was mistaken. It’s when men don’t lead that they end up in these moments of desperation and if they become complacent in it they ultimately live their lives in quiet – maybe a grunt here or there at the water cooler, but they ultimately die out quietly and unnoticed.

So it’s not that most men lead lives of quiet desperation; it’s that what they follow leads to it.

In Proverbs 7, King Solomon talks about what happens when we follow our heart rather than lead it. Emotions change; sometimes emotions change as quickly as weather in the mountains. Since our hearts are so indecisive, they can’t really be trusted.

I’m not saying our hearts shouldn’t be heard. The poetry and beauty that mankind has added to this world depends on the heart, soul and mind down to its core. However, directing life on a series of decisions based on what feels good has a proven track record of causing destruction.

It’s like that scene in The Incredibles with the cape discussion. Bob (Mr. Incredible) wants a cape because it appeals to his feeling of a superhero. Edna has to go on a lengthy monologue that explains how capes spelled the demise of one superhero after another. After all that, Bob decides he doesn’t really want a new suit.

I’m not entirely certain, but I think the cape on Superman was little more than his baby blanket bound around his neck. You could even say that Superman was the first security-blanket-loving-Linus character.

Back to the point – bright men come up with ideas but often seek bad counsel. They give up and feel hopelessness choke out their creativity. In their shame and reluctance they remain quiet when new ideas come to mind which makes them feel their desperation even more. They followed the wrong counsel – the wrong advice – the insecure heart. So shed that cape, turn off the TV, pick up a good book and change the way you think. Let wisdom and understanding guide you and you won’t end up quiet or in desperation.

The Internet Paradox

The Internet is a paradox. All technology is, but to keep from generalized statements – the Internet is a paradox. I’ve been told that any element’s strength is also its weakness, so I’m prepared to look through this at both angles.

1. The internet draws the world closer together. I have a friend at work who is able to communicate with his friends in Jordan through Skype. Like the Jetsons they can video chat from thousands of miles away. I know another couple who’s separated by leagues of ocean between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The paradox: The internet pushes away human interaction.Thirty years ago it was unheard of for psychologically healthy citizens to lock themselves up in a room alone for fifteen hours without physical human interaction … even without food – they would be called hermits. Some people have noticed this problem and created sites to help people regain their physical humanity through what’s called a meet-up.

2. The Internet drives the market towards greater global business opportunities. I have no idea how international business interactions took place before the Internet without plenty of money and an interpreter. Today I could open a web store, tie in a free interpreter and start selling product to Sweden in less than a week.

The Paradox: People have learned to be skeptical of businesses and the consumerist is actually empowered to drive the market down. Where the big business practice was to treat the customer as good as the cow, viral videos (such as “Supersize Me”) has provided a means by which businesses suffer consequences for their parasitic actions. This in turn backfires because big government, lobbied by these large businesses, create regulation that kills off all the smaller ones.

3. The Internet makes information more readily available. At no other time in history has there been such a wealth of information across the globe – readily available – instantly available.

The Paradox: Lies spread faster than truth. Pages like Snopes have become a mainstay and students who think Wikipedia has the same credability as the Encyclopedia Britannica are sadly mistaken.

4. The Internet is my friend. You meet people who are friendly, and you open up to them with your life story because of the anonymity you think it provides.

The Paradox: On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Neither do you know if the person you’re talking to is one… or worse! Internet perverts and stalkers are literally out to get our children by the throat. The lure has never been so pervasive or perverted.

5. Internet based education! I can get my college degree in communications without leaving my home!

The Paradox: Think about it … a communications degree … without face-to-face physical interaction with your professor. Hope you can speak “woof” (see #4).

Don’t get me wrong. I love the internet and the wealth it provides – but something it can’t provide amidst all that knowledge is wisdom. And wisdom demands direct interaction between man and God – then with man and his fellow men. Noah, through his fear and respect of God’s authority, was obedient. The interaction he had with his family saved their lives as well. Noah didn’t build the ark completely by himself, either.

Our world is decaying in moral stature and compassion. In the 1920’s great depression, people housed strangers because they understood the power of many working as a unit. They struggled, but they made it through. Today, our mantra of looking out for “number one” drives people to desperation and daycare houses turn into meth labs. It’s no surprise that the sudden singleness and single-mindedness that the Internet meme has caused leads to people trying to find way to care for themselves without asking others for help … or just as bad … being denied help from others because everyone is so wrapped up in themselves to see the larger picture.

Just as much as the Internet represents one of the greatest feats of mankind – a modern day tower of Babel, it also represents one of the precursors to the greatest downfall of the human race.