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Someone on CBS this morning remarked that "selfie" is the new word of the year. They were discussing photos taken by people of themselves at Mandela's memorial celebration. Now, I cannot be too critical because, living alone, I have taken my share of "selfies"---mostly for my blogs that request author photos. But this new word got me to thinking about our culture's embrace of the concept of "self."
It is a pivotal concept in our culture. Most of the commercials on television are based on self-focused desires advertisers would rather we consider needs. Newer generations, and some of us boomers, seem to have a built in sense of entitlement------we deserve what we want regardless of the consequences or unmet needs of those around us.
In contrast, consider the words of a traditional Native American Prayer (Earth Prayers, 1991, Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, editors. San Francisco, Harper, p. 188): " I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy---myself." I wish I could say I have evolved to the point that my soul is always in alignment with the Native American prayer, but I cannot. Although I have made progress in this direction, I know my desires are too often self rather than other focused without any thought being given to the need to combat my greatest enemy (self).
Alcoholics Anonymous' "Big Book" repeatedly talks about the importance of giving up self-centeredness and self-will if one wants to attain and maintain both physical and emotional sobriety. Rohr (Rohr, Richard, 2011-02-11. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life Wiley. Kindle Edition) talks about the death of the false self as necessary for the" birth of one's soul" (p. 50) and the destruction of false self as being what allows us to be open "to love" (p. 70). In this light, living for self rather than others inevitably leads to being alienated from our soul, being closed to the power of love, and emotionally off balance. If our current cultural love affair with all things self related continues, chances are our culture will not be open to love or things that matter to one's soul. One only has to watch newscasts on television to ascertain we are already creating an emotionally unbalanced society.
I just emitted a huge, long sigh. My mind can take me to very depressing places. I have to remember that my soul is united with Creator who surrounds me with timeless love that grows even more powerful when I share it with my fellow humans. It is not about "I" or "me." It is about changing myself so I can combat my own worst enemy and have more love to share with others. Maybe my personal changes can be like a small pebble thrown into a pond in that they will eventually affect my surrounding environment and/or culture.
Please comment and share your thoughts about the concept of self. May God bless and keep you.