Friday, November 28, 2014
The Fruit of a Narcissistic Society
Once upon a time in Greek mythology, there was a hunter. This hunter was from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia. Boeotia was a region in ancient Greece whose largest city was Thebes. As was the case with most ancient regions, Boeotia was accustomed to war, to chaos, and to upheaval. It was from this region that legend claims the most beautiful man in all the world came. This man’s father was the god Cephissus and his mother was a water nymph (female spirit) named Liriope. This man was also a very proud man. In fact, he was so proud that he disdained those who loved him. This man’s pride was so vain that he was visited by goddess Nemesis who was the goddess of divine retribution. Nemesis was responsible for judging those who crossed the line of arrogance before the gods. Nemesis’ strategy was to lead the most beautiful son of Cephissus to a pool where he would notice his own reflection on the water. The most beautiful son of a god and goddess caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection upon the pool and was smitten with his own beauty. In fact, he was so smitten he could not leave the pool. Eventually he would drown in his own beauty. His admiration for his own self would end up destroying him. The man’s name was Narcissus.
The problem with narcissism is that you are so busy paying attention to your own self that you do not realize what is happening around you. Moreover, you also do not realize the consequences that your own infatuation of yourself are creating for yourself. American society has become a pestiferous bastion of narcissism. We reek of it. The stench of American narcissism is easily detected throughout society.
Let’s begin with the recent issue in Ferguson, MO. I was not there when Michael Brown was shot by officer Wilson. I cannot say what really happened. However, I can say that the American justice system, albeit not perfect, dispenses justice better than any other system on the planet. If you doubt that observation, I invite you to go try out someone else’s system and see for yourself.
The issue in Ferguson is that the people claiming to want justice prove themselves to be liars when they engage in unjust actions, law-breaking actions in order to demonstrate they want justice. Justice has a very simple definition: it is the quality of being fair, equal, impartial balance. The Grand Jury heard every piece of evidence available. We have not. The criminals we call protestors (those engaged in destructive practices) were not present and have not heard the evidence. Many of them that have heard the evidence choose willingly not to believe it because they don’t want to believe it. They want something else.
What is the Ferguson protest really about then? The Ferguson issue is the product of a narcissistic society. Our society is a society of individuals in love with themselves. Rather than place the order of a civilized society above their own personal desires, they are ready to bring the entire system down on it’s head, all in the name of pseudo-justice. It is a narcissistic mindset to want it, and to want it right now, and to demand it even if it means that other innocent people have to suffer because you want your justice meted out your way on your timeline. In other words, justice isn’t justice unless I say it’s justice. That is really what this comes down to.
Another area where we see narcissism expressed in American society is in the homosexuality movement. This movement makes up things like gay genes or whatever pseudo-science they can get their hands on to claim that everyone should view their lifestyle as normal. Against science they claim scientific support. The medical facts of this unhealthy lifestyle are summarily dismissed, ignored and swept aside. The promiscuity is kept out of sight, protecting them from moral judgment. In addition, they have even claimed that the Christian Scriptures do not condemn their version of homosexuality. Thousands of years of tradition and custom, along with innumerable pages of scholarly commentary are dismissed with the simple wink and wave of the hand. Why? The reason is really quite simple: it is what they want. And they will have what they want regardless of whomever else has to suffer in order to get it. Like the violent criminal protestors in Ferguson, they want what they want and no one will get in their way to keep them from getting it. It reminds me of a 2 year-old child throwing a temper tantrum over the candy bar they demand. Except these not are small children and we aren’t talking about chewing gum. These are full-grown, dangerous adults who will deny religious liberty in the one case, and burn your home in the other.
There are many other areas where narcissism expresses itself in American society. But I think the racial (or non-racial) issues in Ferguson, MO and the Homosexual movement suffice in pointing out the consequences of a generation of Americans who simply do not know how to react to not having things go their way. The 2 year-old has now grown into an adult. Seemingly, these are adults without any sense whatsoever that they have neighbors who are human too and who also have wishes, desires and rights. They do not seem to understand that the business owner has the right to remain in business even though some didn’t like the most recent court decision. They do not seem to respect the fact that Christianity has the inherent right to it’s beliefs about homosexuality without those rights being taken away from that community.
How are Christians to think and react to the narcissism confronting us in American society and other societies like Canada, France, Britain, and the world? First, we must always guard our own heart because narcissism is the fruit of sin. Sin breeds narcissism. We become narcissistic in small ways in our home, our work, and even in Church thinking selfishly that we should always get our way. What we want is really what matters most. Narcissism is actually the antithesis of dying to self in order to serve God and others. Let each one of us place the needs of our brother above our own self. If we do that much we defeat narcissism and insulate ourselves in the power of God’s word. Additionally, we must recognize that the societies we live in are autonomous, godless societies with no interest in God. Man has become his own idol and the more we progress through the history of God’s program, the more obvious that fact becomes. Still, God has reserved to Himself a remnant, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation that we should show forth the praises of His glorious name in all the earth. John Piper is right when he says that God’s glory should be our greatest satisfaction.