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« The Great Significance Swap | Main | Start Small, Grow Tall »

Leave Me Alone

So, you’re your own person, right?  You should be able to do whatever you want to do?  Everybody else can go jump in a lake.  Nobody has the right to tell you what to do, where to go and how to live.  Isn’t this the message of Hollywood? Isn’t this what movies, books, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, feminists, radicals and progressives have been cramming down our collective throat for decades?  You know it’s true.  You just may not be aware of the consequences.  Think again.   

Two diametrically opposed philosophies present themselves to us.  Either you are your own person or else you are not your own.  Either you live for yourself alone, or you acquiesce to the opinions of others.  One is independence, the other is interdependence.  You cannot have it both ways.  Of course, it can get complicated.  Gray areas, blurred lines and unspoken laws cloud our vision.  But when you step back far enough to take in the whole picture, things begin to make sense.   

The thing is, if you follow total personal independence out to its logical conclusion, the impact can be devastating.  If you really are your own person with no obligations to anyone except yourself, then family falls apart, friends flee, community suffers, and society unravels. You can buck societal norms all you want, you can thumb your nose at family honor, community standards and cultural pride, but you simultaneously unleash a backlash that will undoubtably rock your world.  If you drive a nail into the bottom of the boat, everything sinks. 

Case in point.  “A Vietnamese fashion designer and model is facing punishment in her home country for wearing a skimpy dress in France, some 9,000 miles away.  According to a report, Ngoc Trinh, 29, wore the flimsy, see-through black gown at the Cannes Film Festival in May. ‘Her outfit was improper, offensive and has caused public outrage,’ Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Vietnam’s minister of culture, sports and tourism, said afterward, according to the Sun. The minister ordered an investigation into whether Trinh violated Vietnam’s public decency laws by wearing the dress—even though she did so far from home. If guilty, she could face a heavy fine, the Sun reported.”, 6/9/19. (I won’t include a photo here for obvious reasons.)

It would seem that this Vietnamese model, half a world away, had the right to wear the clothes she wanted, to enjoy herself, and express her personal tastes.  But she also represented a country, a culture and a way of life that defined her as a person.  Her audacious choice of clothing turned into a disconnect from her roots.  And here is the problem.  Absolute independence requires a monumental sacrifice.  One must separate from everything that gives meaning to his or her life in order to freely indulge in any whim, desire, impulse or urge.   

Some say, “Well, I don’t care!  I don’t care what anybody else thinks.  I’m not going to live my life by someone else’s rules!” Those who really think this way will have to retreat into isolation to live a reclusive life.  We cannot live in society without paying homage to culture, customs, laws, styles and common values.  Why?  Is it not culture that provides the seasoning, the uniqueness, the fascinating flavors of life?  As a frequent traveler to many countries, I always look forward to experiencing the uniqueness in each venue of the world.  The architecture, the dress, the language, the food, the landscape, the scenery and the personalities of the people infuse my wanderings with intriguing interest.  When I look out of the window of the plane or walk out on the street in front of my hotel only to see McDonald’s, Starbucks or Wal-marts, I am totally turned off. I want to see the distinctiveness of Greece, or Chilé, or Hong Kong, Israel or Korea.  Those cultures can only be perpetuated by the loyalty and connectedness that each member hold sacred. 

The Bible teaches us that we are not our own.  When we enter into the body of Christ, we forfeit our own will and adopt the values and sacred traditions of God.  The Message Bible puts it this way: “Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So, let people see God in and through your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (MSG) Those who inject foreign customs and ideas into the church engage in subversion and fraud.  The worst kind of “cultural appropriation” involves those who claim Christianity but believe and behave in blatant anti-Biblical ways.  

You want to be left alone?  Play the maverick.  You’ll get love from yourself and from those who make financial or political gain from supporting you. 

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