There are whole industries dedicated to minimizing risk, variation, cost, and waste. They fall under the umbrella of what is called “quality control” and when it comes to manufacturing products, I think that there is a brilliance to it that can be applauded. It is so brilliant in fact that many people have integrated the thought process behind it into their daily lives and have come to treat everything in life as if it were a product. In fact, the mentality is nothing new. It’s just that in modern times it has almost become the only way many of us relate to each other. A sign of this is that we have pretty much broken ourselves into two camps, producers and consumers. In general, those who facilitate production are the winners and the consumers are the losers. Of course everyone both produces and consumes to some degree, so what I meant by the above statement is that if you are a person whose production to consumption ratio leans greater on the side of production than you are technically winning and if it is in the reverse then you are losing. It’s simple enough right, and if you look at it in a certain way, it almost seems as fair as the idea that if someone works more hours then they should receive more pay. Now here’s the catch 22 for me. According to my beliefs, God doesn’t work that way.
In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven (what I see as reality) by telling a story that is just the opposite of “conventional wisdom”. In it there are some laborers who work all day and some that only worked a few hours, but at the end of the day they all received the same pay. I don’t have to tell you how the ones who worked all day took it. Anyway, there is more that I can say about this and it has nothing to do with communism or any other man made ways of trying to create a perfect system. What I really want to say is that all of the systems that we come up with will all fall short of the Way of Life*–the Way taught and embodied by Jesus and that many throughout history have come to realize. The shortcut of describing it would be the Way of Love.
So, if I am saying that the Way of Love is the Way of Life, then why did I entitle this post Hate the World, Make It a Better Place? Well if the video didn’t explain it (and it probably didn’t), then maybe you might get something out of James 4 which tries to convey how our lusts for the temporal things of this world are what causes all the wars and strife we see. In order to convey the reality of God’s world in juxtaposition to our simulation, it uses statements like, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Unfortunately, I don’t really feel like explaining the non-literalitiness of this. I will just call them functional statements meant to call up a feeling or understanding and leave it at that. Ultimately, James just wants us to see the reality of God and ask correctly of God what it is we feel called toward rather than becoming a slave of these false systems that survive off of dividing us and making some of us winners and some of us losers. That’s why elsewhere, he asks his hearers to count everything as joy. He knows that when we see reality as it is, that there is no loss. Even when we seem to fail in this world, in God’s world, we all get the grand prize.
But for some people, accepting that is easier said than done. We are invested in the system. We don’t want to take the risk of living “woh pang God nam style” because we fear that at best we might look like a fool and at worst we’ll get shot, crucified, or otherwise murdered actually or at least socially. Why? Well if James is right in the idea that friends with the world is enmity with God, then what would be the logical assumption about people who are friends with God? Well fortunately, God is not logical so… Still, we are pretty much taught that the really God-focused, world peace thinking people are losers. I mean, after all, what do they produce? In fact they do the opposite of produce. In general, many of them call for a slowing down of both production and consumption. Some even say we don’t need the things we think we need at all. We are perfect without them they say.
To those bought into the system an idea of being perfect without the promises the system offers is just bad for business. And it’s just the producers who feel this way. The consumers are bought into it just as much because either a) they are hoping to get to producer level one day and benefit off the hypnotized consumers, b) they are so invested into their victim role that it is how they are able to survive without producing, or c) they make meaning out of their lives by being the enemy of the producers and feel like if they give up on the whole system, it is like letting the evil producers off the hook. But ultimately, it’s all a bunch of BS on both sides and that’s why I don’t give a d). Haha.
So what does this all mean? Well that’s why I used Michael Jackson as an illustration in the video. If you look at his life, he really embodies all of these struggles. Massive producer, outrageous consumer, philanthropist, God lover, who called out the system, and ultimately seems to be worth more dead than alive to the system that tried to contain him. Sadly, at the end of his career he experienced what has been said of prophets–they are without honor among their own. At the same time, there are a lot of people who hear him and more who will in the future so I think people could learn a lot from this being who ushered in songs like:
Say what we will about Michael, if you look at his lyrics alone a person with an open mind can see part of what he was striving for as well as what he struggled with. Some of his most loved songs that called us to a higher consciousness even used direct biblical quotes as I mentioned in the video. And in They Don’t Care About Us, he even says he is “looking to heaven to fulfill its prophecy”. Michael was clearly about deeper things, but he was entangled in the system of producers and consumers. He was struggling with this very human dilemma that pits who we truly are against who the world wants us to be. If you listen to any of Michael’s interviews about what he feels when he sings and dances, you know that he touched the space that prophets touch. But I won’t go too far with that. All I can say is that this version of the world where we are categorized as producers and consumers cannot yet contain the kind of soul that wants to see all of us as One. But the good news is that we’re getting closer everyday.
As one in the struggle who has chosen his side, I know it isn’t easy. As long as there is a temptation to serve two masters, it will be difficult to some degree. But at the end of the day, I believe Jesus is right. We can’t serve two masters. We have to love one and hate the other. We can’t serve God and Mammon (Matt 6:24). The way I contextualize it for where I am is to say, “I can’t serve Oneness and separation”. The world of separation is the world that pits us against one another and leaves us in constant fear of our future. I believe that God’s world doesn’t work that way and that if we start to accept this, we will start to see that what I am calling God’s world exists just beyond the veil of our illusions**. I’ve touched it too many times to think otherwise. So no matter how many times I might get distracted, I have chosen God’s world–the better place. And so because I believe the vision statement of the Lord’s Prayer–“Your [God’s] kingdom come. Your [God’s] will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”–I, of necessity hate the world that says otherwise.
I know that that can come off as a confusing statement–“Hate the world, make it a better place”. I wish I could do the idea more service. Maybe looking at it in terms of hating the disease, loving the health. It’s not that you really “hate the disease”, but by loving health you are automatically hating the disease because as you approach health the disease dies. That’s just how it is. No judgment. Just a natural consequence. If that doesn’t make sense, feel free to comment. Maybe you can help me better articulate this idea or perhaps even abandon it. Just putting it out there.
*”As jacked as it sounds, the whole system sucks”–Scream
**”It’s plain to see, this world is heavenly. Be God’s glow.–Heal the World