I believe that if you look deeply enough, you will find that almost every industry is ultimately in the distraction and manipulation business. I’m not saying this with any judgment. I’m just making an observation. If you disagree, I invite you to simply consider how the internet is set up so that once you log on it is increasingly difficult to get off. Even if you go on a site like Bible Gateway, you can be sure to find advertisements and hyperlinks that will either take you deeper into their online world or further out into the vast consumerism cosmos. For many of us, once we go online, we are just one click away from the obliteration of our consciousness, by way of a Top 15 this, that, or the other thing article. And, believe it or not, that’s the way we like it.
So how did we get this way? My thought is that we haven’t become this way. I assert that we have always been this way. From the time we were hunting and struggling to survive in a hostile world, our attention has been all over the place. It had to be. How else could we survive out in the wild hunting for food knowing that we too may have been under the watchful eye of a predator or warrior from a rival community?
I hypothesize that while we may have been forced by necessity to focus to some degree, it was mainly only when we were looking for escape routes from our predators or when we were being predators ourselves and needed to focus on killing something or someone for our own survival. Of course, the other times we would focus would be when we were trying to mate. But in my mind, that too falls in the survival category. So from my perspective, people with so called attention disorders are actually more consistent with our nature than those who demonstrate what we have started to convince ourselves is normal attentiveness.
Of course, because so many of us have made an idol of attentiveness and like to think of ourselves as being particularly adept at holding our attention onto something, some may feel inclined to argue against what I am saying. Well, I have one word for you; Trump. You can allow that word to take you wherever you feel inclined to go, but I assure you that most people will be pulled in one direction or the other by the very mention of his name. Why? Because his very essence is synonymous with our nature–all over the place. Whether we agree with him or disagree with him is irrelevant. My point is that he taps into our appetite for distraction and feeds us plenty. But I digress. This post is not about our president, but what he highlights about the nature of how we do business with each other in every sense of the word.
Distraction from Distraction
Before I actually became a minister, I used to think that ministers were supposed to help people with their problems and teach others to do the same. But then, as I watched so many ministers fall from grace and watch their followers using their minister’s downfall as excuses to give up their professed ideals, I let that idea go. First of all that is too much pressure for one person. Give that to God. Second of all, the mentality that says, “If you fail then I will quit,” is unhealthy, so I don’t recommend buying into it. That’s like someone who gets sober and turns their life around going back to drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., when they find out their sponsor fell off the wagon. It makes no sense. What that tells me is that the sponsor or, in my case, minister has done nothing but become another distraction for the person they thought they were helping. That’s the last thing I want to be. I now see my role as calling attention to what is and then inviting people to consider what could be. What has worked for me is surrendering to my present limitations while having the faith that I have access to a re-Source that operates beyond them. My favorite scripture has become:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Working With What is
The way I see it, despite its good intentions, distracting people from being distracted doesn’t work long term. Somebody in the equation is going to get tired and things are going to fall apart. Look at all of the businesses and institutions that have profited from our easily distracted minds. They essentially are sowing seeds of corruption and as a result their enterprises go in decline once the chief manipulators retire or get tired. Just look at one of the major banks that I won’t mention. They made all of those millions, but now they have lost their reputation and are losing customers like crazy. I’m one of them. The Bible says, “A good reputation is to be chosen rather than great riches and favor is better than silver or gold.” It says this because the writers of the scriptures never denied our tendency toward destructive distraction.
As I see it, if we want to move into a new, more conscious way of being together and doing business, we have to start by non-judgmentally accepting our tendencies. We would be best served by seeing them as the gift they were and then working with this tendency as we move forward. What works for me is having a spiritual practice that constantly reminds me that I am capable of more than I am currently expressing. It tells me that there was someone who moved beyond the paradigm of this age and that I can too if I will surrender my survivor’s mind for the mind from which he engaged the world–which was essentially the mind of God (see Philippians 2).
Of course, I am talking about Jesus, who rather than serving his mind, commanded his mind to be his servant. In Hebrews, readers are told that he was tempted to the same degree as every other human, but was not distracted by it to the point of losing himself. According to his teachings, we are equally capable of staying on target despite our nature. But we need to practice.
One of the ways I practice is contemplating the act of walking my dog. When I walk her, I know where I am taking her. All she knows is that we are walking. As we go she sniffs everything, pees everywhere, and constantly pulls me in every direction other than the direction I plan on going. She is the epitome of distracted. On our walks I assign her the role of the distracted mind. I do not blame her from doing what she does. It is natural for her to do everything she is doing. I am responsible for leading her to where I intend to go. In this metaphor then I am playing the role of a higher consciousness. I submit that leading our own distracted minds is no different.
Mind’s Best Friend
I submit that the nature of our mind is simply to follow the prompts it has been given. It is a computer essentially. Up to now, despite our advances in technology, we have been using it the same way we always have. Hence an outrageous defense budget. If we only program it to survive at all costs, that is all it will work toward. But if we surrender it to The Consciousness (Mind’s best friend) that sees so much more of what we’re capable of, it will use that same ability it used to scan for threats, food, and sex to scan the vastness of Creation to reveal to us the wonders and beauty that this world and beyond can express.
I believe that used properly, one day it will be common place to see that there is room and resources for everyone and that the business trend of distraction and manipulation no longer serves us.