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« Unbelief: The Lurker | Main | Leave Me Alone »

The Great Significance Swap


Staring intently at the iPad, my four-year-old grandson would swipe his finger across the screen every one or two seconds.  After several swipes, he would raise his head and announce in a matter-of-fact voice, “He died.”  Down his head would go again.  Process repeated, ad infinitum. 

I don’t want to make too much of this, but it did strike me as revealing.  Have we trivialized the solemn significance of death until it is on par with a video game booboo?  Yes, we have.  Virtual reality has become just as real as actual people, events and circumstances.  Even gamers and cyberspace experts are starting to warn the world about this danger. Cody Lewis, writing in cautions us, “The emerging world of virtual reality is not only providing a new, fully immersive gaming experience, but creating new ways for people to see the world. Whether it’s a virtual reality airlines out of Japan or a way to bring excitement to exercise, people are finding innovative and exciting ways to use the technology.  The problem, however, is that we don’t know its long-term effects on either the body or the mind. We are in a wait-and-see situation. That’s frightening, but we are also in a similar situation with smartphones, so what can you do?”  

The virtual reality concern, in my view, is only symptomatic of a larger problem.  Our political climate has poisoned the minds of many into a state of inversion about life.  I call it a significance swap.  We now value things once thought to be trash and trash things once thought to be valuable; we celebrate the silly and denigrate greatness; we elevate the inconsequential and ridicule the truly significant; we laugh at real danger and fear safety.  It’s an insane progression that leads to eventual catastrophe—sooner rather than later.  Years ago, Tony Campolo asked the question, “Who switched the price tags?”  He said that we have made the expensive cheap and the cheap expensive.  As you might imagine, we could go deep into this phenomenon, but in this piece, I want to lay the case out in a brief way just to get the conversation started. 

Examine the following propositions.  Each of them deserves elaboration, but I believe that they hold a kernel of truth despite their skeletal format.  It would be fairly easy to find illustrations all around us that proves the point. 

·       Words over deeds. 

·       Feelings over facts.

·       Youth over age.

·       Visceral over thoughtful.

·       Specious over sensible.

·       Short term over long term.

·       Perception over reality.

·       Symbolism over substance.

·       Convenience over difficulty.

·       Quick over time-consuming.

·       Planning over executing.

·       Temporary over permanence.

·       Superficiality over depth.

·       Wishing over working.

·       Illusion over truth.

·       Spectacular over ordinary.

·       Fun over joy.

·       Skepticism over faith.

·       Patronism over loyalty.

·       Chaos over order.

·       Loud over soft.

·       Flesh over spirit.

·       Running over standing.

·       Getting over giving.

·       Like over love.

·       Me over you. 

I believe that the second word or phrase in each couplet holds much greater significance over the first.  Somehow, we have been conned into the opposite position and the systemic problems we now experience in our society demonstrate the folly of the move.  As you look over these contentions, how do you fare?  Are you falling for the ruse of conventional wisdom or can you cut through the noise and get a clear vision of reality?  A challenge like this is a mere intellectual exercise unless you have the courage to do something about it in your personal life.

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