My field of marketing has become obsessed with data. There are so many collection entities out there, it’s nearly impossible to choose the right one. They track everything we do and know everything about us. They’re even getting close to knowing what we will be thinking tomorrow before we think it.
Last Saturday, I was having breakfast with a couple friends, one of whom was wearing a Fitbit which tracked the time he spent exercising and gave him little prods to “do more”. I’m sure some data-crunching bot somewhere is analyzing his behavior and devising a plan to guilt him into buying their exercise machine or diet product.
That got me thinking about tracking my own time expenditures. I began to consider how much time I’ve spent in front of a mirror during my life. I spend an average of seven minutes each morning, shaving my face and blow-drying my hair. I notice myself in the car mirror for a few seconds at a time at least once a day. Add to that the times I’ve been walking into a coffee shop or client’s office and checked my reflection in the glass door to be sure my fly wasn’t open.
Before I was five years old, I never even noticed mirrors apart from their novelty. Hence, the fact that my dear old mother was constantly reminding me to wash my face. From five to ten, my mirror time was limited, but then, my ego blossomed and I became conscious of how other people saw me. Following that, came the teen years where I was constantly inspecting my face in front of a mirror, searching for the dreaded pimple.
Take my 67 years, minus the first five and multiply that by ten minutes per day, times 365 days a year, and you get an astounding 164.75 days of my life, wasted while staring at the same goofy image! Don’t laugh until you’ve calculated your own preening time. If the angel of death showed up at our door tomorrow and said, “Today’s the day bud,” what would you and I be willing to trade for an extra 165 days?
The Image of Cultural Decay
I’m convinced that mirrors are at the heart of our cultural decay, not because they show us who we are, but because we’ve seen that image so often, we’ve begun to believe it’s who everyone else should be. We’ve arrived at a point where it’s considered reasonable to “cancel” anyone who doesn’t look, act, and think just like us. Moronic leaders in our nation’s capital are even suggesting that we should shun relatives and old friends if they belong to the dreaded “other” political party.
We seem to have lost site of the fact that “acceptance” is NOT “validation”. Liking another human being and spending time with them should not be an indication that we agree with all their values. Cooperating with and being considerate of the jerk who shares our cubicle at work — simply for the sake of moving our team forward — is NOT hypocrisy. It’s called being an adult.
Last week, I wrote about an old friend who I’ve enjoyed knowing for over fifty years. Granted, we share a LOT of the same values, but if he were my only friend, I would be in serious trouble. I attend a local church, but I have many friends — people who I love spending time with — that identify as Athiests. I’m pretty conservative, yet I have some great friends who are at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.
Why should we not spend time together, enjoying our common interests? For that matter, why should we not be mature enough to discuss things like politics, race, sexuality, spirituality, and even vegans versus carnivores without breaking fellowship? When did the concept of having an honest discussion evolve from a simple exchange of ideas, to being a competitive sport where only one party wins? Are people only as valuable as their ideas?
Whence Cometh Human Value
Jesus of Nazareth said our value as human beings stems from being made in the image of the Creator of the universe. Most contemporary Western organized religion, while claiming to follow Him, judges people harshly based on a lack of conformity to the myriad rules that organized religion has concocted.
Secular Humanists proclaim that our value as humans is simply intrinsic and that there is no Creator. Yet those same Secular Humanists engage in the cancel culture against other humans who fail to act like they do, all-the-while condemning contemporary organized religion for doing precisely the same thing.
In the early 1960’s an adult neighbor once tried to convince me that the lightness of my skin was what gave me value. Even as a young kid, I could see he was a nut-job. Today, people are trying to convince me that all people with my skin color are what’s wrong with the world as if everyone who looks like me believed the same as a small contingency of lunatics that just happened to look like me. You’ve got to love the irony.
Whatever our world view … whatever our genetic heritage … whatever our grudge against society — is it not time that we put away childish attitudes and began to see our co-workers, our relatives, the bum on the street, and the cranky cashier at the grocery store, for who they really are rather than how much like the image in our mirror we can convince them to be?
Perhaps the simple solution is that we cast superstition aside and smash all the mirrors. We could even start a new religion called “Smashism” and we could differentiate ourselves by wearing glitter in our hair to symbolize broken glass. Too much? Maybe you have a better idea. Let’s hear it.
Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.
― C.S. Lewis
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— Eric Metals
Read this book and then, let’s get together and talk about how tough and unfair our lives have been. Who gives up his comfortable life in America to return to Nazi Germany and stand against the greatest evil of our time? Who can balance his faith in God’s love for man with his attempt to kill one of the most evil men that ever lived. This guy made all of the hard decisions and he consistently put the good of others before himself. You can argue with his theology but you cannot argue with his life.
— Gina Neff & Dawn Nafus
Y’all already know where this is headed but I dare you to read it anyway. Did you know Ben Franklin kept meticulous records of how he spent his time? This is another top-notch publication from the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series.
A meeting of great minds who think alike